Early College Planning Initiative

The 529 College Savings Experiment

"Making It Easy and Attractive to Save for College: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment." With Eric Bettinger

With funding from the U.S. Department of Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 529 College Savings Project is a research initiative designed to determine the best way to help Massachusetts families prepare for the expense of their children’s college educations. The purpose of the proposed research is to implement a series of school workshops focused on the parents of 7th to 10th graders that provide information about 529 college savings plans, a simplified way to enroll, and incentives for families to invest in such accounts. These interventions will allow us to gather data showing the effects of information, simplification, and incentives on college savings behavior and educational outcomes in the long run. The project hopes to determine the types of supports that are most helpful to families as they try to prepare financially for their children’s college educations. This has important implications for policy as well as the way schools and non-profits could work with families. Moreover, the project presents the opportunity to help thousands of Boston families learn more about college preparation and savings plans, and some parents will also receive support for their children’s educations.

Presentation of the Preliminary Results: Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making, “Simplification, Assistance, and Incentives: A Randomized Experiment to Increase College Savings.” (2017) Draft working paper available here.