Persuading Parents and Children that College is Important

College is becoming more important than it has been historically. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reports that, by 2020, 65% of jobs will require more than a high school diploma. It’s a remarkable statistic when you realize that in 1973, just over 40 years ago, only 28% of jobs required some college education.1

Higher education can be a powerful tool for change in communities and in families. The challenge is persuading parents and students that college is possible and raising awareness about the importance of saving. The good news is that we're making progress in the District of Columbia.

Laurent RossLaurent Ross, Former DC College Savings Plan Program Manager

"Parental savings are very important, even when the amount saved is small," said former DC College Savings Plan Program Manager Laurent Ross. "Parents need to remember, it's not how much you save, it's the fact that you are saving. When you save, you are letting your child know they should go to college. That's why building awareness is so important."

Learn more about enrolling in the DC College Savings Plan.

ALL-TIME HIGH AWARENESS LEVEL IN THE DISTRICT

Last year, we asked residents of the District of Columbia with at least one child under the age of 18 in their household (residents) what they thought of the DC College Savings Plan (DCCSP). Our goals included measuring residents' awareness of the DCCSP. The results were impressive. The majority of residents or households with kids surveyed in the District were aware that 529 college savings plans can help make higher education more affordable. In addition:

  • 71% of residents were aware of the DCCSP
  • 48% of residents were familiar with the DCCSP
  • 53% have invested in a 529 college savings plan
  • 61% of those with 529 plans chose to save in the DCCSP

And, a majority of the residents who are aware of the DCCSP said they are likely to consider the Plan when putting money aside for a child or grandchild's college education.

BUILDING AWARENESS THROUGH COMMUNITY OUTREACH

It's noteworthy that many district residents with children living at home under 18 learned about the DC College Savings Plan through word-of-mouth. We believe this reflects our commitment to community outreach, which always has been an essential element of the DC College Savings Plan.

"As I said before, though challenges will try to stop me, I will keep my mind on my goals and accomplish them. Going to college is a dream of mine that I know someday I will get to. Many people try to stop me and say college is not for everyone and it's hard for people like me to get into college but I know that’s not true. I can't wait until I graduate from high school and prove all of those people wrong. With the help of my family and many supporters at my school who are here to help me along the way I know I am going to college."
-- EXCERPT FROM WINNING ESSAY, WARD 7

"Over the last decade, we've attended countless college fairs, community events, and PTA meetings to help promote the plan and educate the community on the importance of saving for college. And by developing tools like the College Savings Calculator and the College Number Cruncher, we've helped families realize the cost of college and create manageable savings plans" stated Scott Mulvaney, the current program director for DCCSP.

BUILDING AWARENESS, ONE ESSAY AT A TIME

"The District of Columbia’s Office of Finance and Treasury (OFT) introduced the idea of funding an essay contest to encourage awareness among district residents several years ago," said Jeffery Barnette, treasurer and deputy CFO for the District of Columbia. "Through our partnership with The District of Columbia's College Access Program (DC-CAP), the District awarded $96,000 dollars in scholarship money to prospective college students since this contest began. We've awarded another $40,000 through The DC College Savings Plan Essay Contest for high school seniors."

The winning essays are rewarded with cash prizes- awards deposited in DC College Savings Plan accounts- intended to help students and their parents pay for expenses related to post-secondary education. During the past four years, the DCCSP awarded 88 essay winners, and 24 more will be recognized this year.

The DCCSP has managed the contest, in partnership with DC-CAP, since it began in 2011. "It’s very important to raise awareness in the city," said L.D. Ross, Jr., vice president of programs for DC-CAP. "Many of our students are first generation college students. Thus, they don't have a lot of role models to emulate. They don't have anyone to really talk to them about the importance of college."

"The synergy between DC-CAP and DCCSP makes it possible for both organizations to grow and support District residents who want to go to college," said Laurent Ross.

Learn more about enrolling in the DC College Savings Plan.

1. Georgetown University, RECOVERY: JOB GROWTH AND EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS THROUGH 2020, June 2013 [http://cew.georgetown.edu/recovery2020].


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