How K2C Works
Kindergarten to College is both automatic and universal. When a student enters kindergarten in San Francisco Unified School District, K2C automatically opens a deposit-only savings account in the child’s name at Citibank with a starter deposit of $50 in each account. There is no paperwork to fill out, and the program does not use social security numbers. For some families, their account with K2C is their only formal bank account with a financial institution. Families with a K2C account can begin saving for post-secondary education immediately by choosing how to deposit from the following methods:
Bring your ID and K2C account information to contribute, including cash, at any San Francisco Citibank branch.
By mail or bank, payable to your child’s name with their K2C account # in the memo section.
Download a form to fill-in and give to your employer to make automatic deductions from your paycheck.
Go to your local bank or credit union’s website to set up recurring BillPay or one-time payment. Students and families can access additional incentive dollars by engaging with their accounts to view activity and save. Families also have the option to transfer funds into a qualified 529 account.
Only 54% of low-income students who are college-qualified enroll in college shortly after high school, as compared to 84% of high-income students. High-income children not only enroll in college at a higher rate, but they are also 6x more likely to graduate by age 25. Children who graduate from college earn more money over the course of their lifetime than children who do not.
K2C seeks to reverse these trends by providing every child entering kindergarten with a Children’s Savings Account (CSA). CSAs are asset building accounts that provide a type of financial scaffolding for facilitating transfers of wealth from multiple sources to children for the purpose of giving all children an equal opportunity to reach their full potential. In national surveys about college savings, families with accounts had about 25 times the median financial assets of those without.
Families in SFUSD are participating in K2C at more than 11 times the national college savings rate. More striking than the sheer percentage of families participating is that half of the participating families qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Approximately 600 graduating seniors were in the inaugural class for K2C as Kindergarteners. Students who’ve had their accounts since kindergarten and have saved in their K2C accounts have an average balance of $1,422 – a 28 times increase from the City’s initial deposit.
San Francisco’s K2C program has been replicated across the country, with 128 active CSA programs reaching more than 5 million children in 38 states, including municipal programs in Oakland, Los Angeles and New York City, and statewide programs in California, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Maine.
What Does the Research Say?
Savings—even small amounts—can improve the odds that San Francisco students will attend and graduate from college. Low- to moderate-income children with savings set aside for college are up to three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate from college than those without an account.
Programs like K2C cultivate college-going identities. Savings is linked to increases in math scores among youth; better health and education outcomes; and the development of a “future orientation.
In adulthood, people are more likely to save if they saved in childhood, and programs like K2C can connect children to assets such as retirement accounts, real estate, and other investments. College savings help children avoid student debt, an important outcome since indebted college graduates accumulate less wealth than do graduates who never borrowed to finance their degrees.