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How Low Income Parents in This City Managed to Save Up $1 Million for College

Administrators of San Francisco's Kindergarten to College program

A study done in 2009 showed that students who have money in college savings accounts were more likely to attend college. According to MarketWatch, only about half of all families with children under the age of 18 are saving for college, and 58 percent of those say they aren't saving because they don't have the money.

It's even tougher for low-income parents to save for their child's education. But, amazingly, about 2,600 low-income families have saved more than $1 million combined over the last four years. How?

A program that helps low-income parents save

San Francisco's Kindergarten to College program launched in 2011 specifically to help low- and moderate-income families save for their children's college. It's the only program like it in the U.S. How does it work? Each child who begins school at one of San Francisco's public schools is given a $50 savings account. The program offers a $100 match for the first $100 that parents deposit into their child's account, and a $100 bonus is paid for six months of consistent savings.

It's working

Over the last four years, 2,600 families have saved more than $1 million. Although only about 14 percent of parents are actively participating in their children's accounts, they represent half of the families whose household income is less than $40,000 a year for a family of four.

How the program is funded

The program is offered through the San Francisco Treasurer's Office of Financial Empowerment and is funded through public and private donations. According to the treasurer's office, the donations are enough to fund the program indefinitely.

To read more, visit www.sfofe.org/programs/k-to-c

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