In 2020, the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Empowerment will launch its college savings account program: College Bound Saint Paul. The new program will illuminate a pathway to a brighter future for both our families and the city. Every child born in the city will receive a savings account with a $50 seed deposit. Families can contribute to the funds and watch them grow over time with the child. College Bound Saint Paul gives families a strong foundation to invest in their children’s education and establish lifelong financial wellbeing.
The mission of College Bound Saint Paul is to improve higher-education access to all families and increase college attainment for all youth. The program promotes the use of secure and affordable financial services for students and their families. College Bound is a fundamental method to address the racial wealth and education gap in our city.
Every family can save and every child in Saint Paul has college potential. By equipping families with financial knowledge and tools, College Bound Saint Paul illuminates a pathway to a bright future for our families and the entire community.Working together as a community of residents, businesses and organizations, we can empower every child to reach their full potential by providing access to financial tools and a pathway to success—and by demonstrating to each and every child in our city that we believe in them. College Bound Saint Paul lays the foundation for our families and our city to thrive for generations to come.
Everyone benefits. When we invest in our children and create access to wealth-building services, the whole city thrives. Many families in Saint Paul face financial insecurity and particularly households of color. In fact, Saint Paul has some of the worst economic disparities, with 32% of households of color falling below the poverty line, compared to 4% of white households. Educational attainment is also sharply divided by race—fewer than one in five adults of color in Saint Paul have a college degree, compared to more than half of white adults.
As a community, we can leverage the city’s efforts to make college a reality for all. College Bound Saint Paul is an investment in our future by fostering a highly educated workforce and wider economic growth for the city.
Saving leads to college success. Research shows that even small amounts of college savings can have a big impact on children from low-income households. Studies have found that children whose families save just $500 or less are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. Saving for college fosters a college-bound vision in children and raises family expectations, both proven to be crucial factors in attaining higher education.
A one-size fits all program. Funds can be used for a broad range of postsecondary educational opportunities, including four-year colleges and universities, two-year and community colleges, and workforce or vocational training.
College Bound Saint Paul ensures we are building a city that works for all of us. The Mayor announced the creation of an ambitious college savings account initiative during his inaugural address in 2017. Launching the new program by 2020 is a top priority for his administration.
The program is the centerpiece of a broader plan to address the educational opportunity gap, financial insecurity and inequalities among many of Saint Paul’s families. In conjunction with College Bound Saint Paul, the Office of Financial Empowerment will help families connect to financial services including financial education, early childhood education and services, community-based wrap-around programs and services, and free tax preparation.
Community-designed and governed. The City of Saint Paul worked closely with leading experts in the emerging field of college savings accounts and convened a community-driven, 50-member task force to design the program over the course of 2018. The task force and its subcommittees made the community a top priority in the planning process and intentionally engaged with communities whose voices have been historically excluded. Community engagement sessions were held with 145 residents from a broad range of cultures and experiences that reflect the diversity of Saint Paul. College Bound Saint Paul will be housed within the Office of Financial Empowerment.
College Bound Saint Paul is a sustainable program and plans a range of funding sources, including the City of Saint Paul, State of Minnesota, foundations, corporations and individual donors.
View the College Savings Account Task Force report here.