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Should the city make college savings accounts for all LAUSD students?




A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school, in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2009.
A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school, in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2009.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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The Los Angeles City Council is considering a novel idea: creating savings accounts for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District in hopes that they’ll be more likely to go to college.

On Tuesday, the Council voted to hire a consultant to analyze the idea and give recommendations. The motion was introduced by Councilmember David Ryu, who based it on a study that that showed that a low or moderate income child with $500 in college savings is three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate. In one potential plan, a kindergartener enrolled in a district school would get $50 in their savings, meaning an estimated cost of $2.7 million to 3.4 million a year.

Critics of the program have said it would be an inefficient use of public funds and that there are more efficient ways to get kids into college – for example, hiring tutors so they have better grades and test scores.

Also, since LAUSD covers cities other than Los Angeles, the logistics of which students get savings accounts might be difficult to navigate.

Should LAUSD provide college savings accounts to its students? Is this the best way for the city to ensure that kids go to college? Did having or not having savings impact your decision or ability to go to college?

Guests:

Carl Rist, senior director of children’s savings at Prosperity Now, a Washington D.C.-based consulting and advocacy firm that’s helping develop the savings account program

Lisa Snell, director of Education at The Reason Foundation