New Report: Five Ways To Finance College Promise Programs

A new report from the College Promise Campaign and ETS describes five financial sustainability models for College Promise programs.

According to the College Promise Campaign, 11 states and an estimated 200 local communities presently operate College Promise programs—a huge increase over the 50 programs estimated to have existed in 2015.

As College Promise initiatives have increased steadily in popularity, so have questions about how to sustain these programs financially and programmatically beyond startup and seed funding. On October 4, the College Promise Campaign and ETS released a new report that offers five different models that their designers propose may keep established and emerging programs viable indefinitely.

The five models discussed in Designing Sustainable Funding for College Promise Initiatives include:

1.  Children’s Savings Account Models;

2. State-funded Models;

3. Privately Funded Models;

4. Federal Financial Aid Redesign Models; and

5. Outcomes-based Financing Models.

Speaking at the event, Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.), who along with Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last May reintroduced the American Dream Accounts Act to increase access to higher education for low-income students, affirmed his commitment to advancing this legislation in Congress—while candidly admitting to complications in moving the legislation. Primary obstacles, Coons said, have been that the legislation was “embedded in much larger, more complicated pieces of legislation,” one involving comprehensive immigration reform and the other within the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015.  

Coons told the college leaders and policymakers in the room that “…the policy, evaluation, and the research you’re reviewing today is critical to helping us get in place models that makes sense, that are sustainable, and that will make a real difference. …it is valuable,” he said, “important to have validated- which is that kids from low-income background really can succeed…in K-12 and higher education.”

Of all the financing models presented, the senator said that he was “particularly struck by the Children’s Savings Account policy report—that suggests that CSAs raise educational expectations, improve academic performance, increase postsecondary enrollment, increase postsecondary education completion, and increase post-college asset accumulation.”

In addition to describing different funding models, Designing Sustainable Funding recommends policy strategies through which these models can be incorporated into existing and new College Promise programs. The authors of the Children’s Savings Account analysis, for example, suggested:

1. Connect Promise models with existing Children’s Savings Account programs;

2. Open Children’s Savings Accounts for all College Promise participants;

3. Transform scholarship programs into early commitment asset-building programs; and

4. Open Children’s Savings Accounts for all children and youth, including College Promise participants.

The full report can be downloaded here. For more information from the College Promise Campaign, contact Andra Armstrong at

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