LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Southern Bancorp Community Partners (“Southern”) released a report on college savings accounts. The paper, titled “College Savings Accounts: Multiple Paths to a Brighter Future,” showcases the findings and experiences in offering savings programs aimed at improving access to education. In the report, Southern reviews its history with various savings accounts, and then identifies trends and commonalities, barriers to success, and gaps in service within the programs.

For more than 20 years, Southern has worked with families in rural Arkansas and Mississippi to help them build economic security through a range of asset building direct service programs.  Simultaneously, Southern has also pursued public policy change seeking to enable the financial stability and independence of Arkansas’s children and families. The report focuses on Southern’s work with four types of college savings accounts (CSAs):

  • Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED) Development and implementation of Southern’s first child savings program.
  • Aspiring Scholars Matching Grant (ASMG) Use of policy and practice to develop and promote a statewide college savings program in Arkansas.
  • Mississippi College Savings Accounts Assistance with a savings initiative to promote aspirations for college.
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) Use of an adult savings program to create opportunities for college.

The report offers two logic models that describe Southern’s approach to evaluating the social impact of savings programs and then provides recommendations. Southern believes its experience will inform the promotion and use of CSAs to facilitate college success and economic mobility for those who stand to benefit most.

Several key findings Southern found through working with families saving for college include:

  • Families of all income levels can save, and evidence suggests that committed savers in the lowest income group reached their goals more quickly than those in higher income brackets.
  • While there are key differences between IDAs and child savings accounts, education IDAs are a tool to support college completion, while CSAs are a tool to support college enrollment.
  • Operating a CSA program in the context of an institution or community with a college-going environment increased the likelihood of success, both for the program and the students.
  • Strong policy in support of educational savings and educational attainment is critical, but it must be coupled with sufficient financial investment and a sustainability plan.

Please click here to read the full report of “College Savings Accounts: Multiple Paths to a Brighter Future.” For more information about Southern’s asset building program, please contact Dr. Karama Neal at 501.850.8978 or To learn more about enacted Arkansas and Mississippi state policies promoting savings accounts, please contact Tamika Edwards at 501.850.8973 or


Southern Bancorp Community Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of Southern Bancorp, one of America’s largest and most profitable community development banks. Southern seeks to reduce poverty by improving education and economic opportunities for individuals and families in Arkansas and Mississippi.

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