Incentives Matter: Modification to College Savings Account Program
At this juncture in the program’s lifespan – based on lessons learned through practice and our annual external third-party evaluation – KC Scholars is modifying some program components.
Starting with the May 2021 award cycle, KC Scholars will award 250 College Savings Match & Incentive awards and all 250 will be eligible for a match on their account contributions and for incentives each high school year.
It will be more impactful to create significant outcomes for 250 students, rather than only 50. Previously, 500 College Savings Accounts were seeded annually but only 50 were matched and incentivized. Now, all 250 awardees will be matched and incentivized.
The current model includes awarding and seeding up to 500 529 College Savings Accounts annually and then selecting 50 to be in the Match & Incentives program. Applicants apply and are awarded at the end of 9th grade of high school. The 50 Scholars in the Match & Incentives program could earn up to $7,000 which acts like a scholarship once they enter college: the Scholars’ contributions into their accounts were matched 4:1 (up to $5,000) and up to $2,000 could be earned by completing key college-ready milestones each grade of high school.
Practice revealed these trends: 1) we did not reach the goal of 500 accounts over the first four award cycles, 2) there was often confusion about whether a Scholar was or was not in the Match & Incentives program, and 3) Scholars in the Match & Incentives program participated at higher rates in college planning advisement and contributed more into their accounts. To sum it up, Incentives matter!
We believe it is more impactful to create significant outcomes for 250 students, rather than only 50.