Go to college, work hard, prosper, and succeed. These are the core tenets of the American Dream. And yet, while we dreamt without limits as children, today’s reality is much different.
Getting a degree to pursue the dream of higher education remains a challenge, especially for low-to-moderate-income families and students.
Not only are at-risk populations less likely to attend college, but less likely to graduate. To ensure our nation’s economic prosperity we must get a larger number to and through college.
But that requires we open the doors of higher education to a more significant number of Americans. That’s why our organizational initiatives are vital.
In 2021, we:
- Built the most advanced college savings challenge
- Helped students and families across Massachussetts invest in their education through incentivized challenges
- Launched the 2021 Inversant scholarship, supporting at-risk students and families
While we acknowledge that there’s still much work to do, we also celebrate this year’s accomplishments.
Below is a recap of Inversant’s impact in 2021 and a look ahead at what’s to come in 2022.
INVERSANT PURPOSE AND MISSION
The high cost of college and the rising number of students saddled with debt have more Americans asking, is a college degree worth it? That question is more significant than ever as the country faces a deepening socioeconomic divide.
One estimate has two-thirds of new job openings requiring education beyond high school. Yet, less than 15% of students from the lowest income bracket earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24.
Although generations have viewed higher education as a ladder in social mobility, that ladder has become increasingly difficult to climb.
That’s where Inversant comes in. We equip at-risk and marginalized students with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate and save for higher education successfully.
And all without an overwhelming amount of student loan debt.
For over a decade, we’ve helped college-bound students and their families save more money for college.
To further our mission to make higher education attainable for anyone, we expanded our offerings to reach more people in 2021.
We’re doing this through a unique three-part approach:
- SAVINGS – Build an asset acquisition mentality with an Inversant College Savings account. Through the Savings Challenge, families and students will acquire a financial asset and re-invest that in their education. Creating a college identity and savings identity through incentivized savings challenges vastly improves the ability to sustain savings over time.
- SKILLS – Workshops and resources help families and students access college financial aid, admissions, readiness, and preparedness information critical to getting an education without wasting time, money, or opportunities.
- SCHOLARSHIP – The Inversant Scholarships are need and risk-based financial aid that make it possible to enter, continue, and graduate.
Here’s a look at how each pillar is approached and how we expanded those offerings in 2021. Plus, we’ll look to the future of Inversant and how they’ll continue to support students and families in the coming years.
1. INVERSANT SAVINGS CHALLENGE
Although the last two decades witnessed a growing share of undergraduate students coming from lower-income households nationwide, this hasn’t led to increased mobility or reduced achievement gaps.
Only 11% of low-income, first-generation students graduate with a bachelor’s degree after six years, compared to 55% of their peers.
And for those who do graduate, bachelor’s degree holders from low-income backgrounds earn about two-thirds as much as those from higher-income backgrounds at the start of their career, and this ratio declines to one-half by mid-career.
Research shows that among youth who expect to graduate from a four-year college, those with a savings account in their name were approximately six times more likely to attend college than those with no account.
But with only 35% of low-to-moderate-income families saving across the US, we must increase those odds if we’re going to impact college application and completion rates positively.
That’s why an incentivized savings program is the heart of Inversant’s approach. Here’s how it works:
- 3 month program that coaches you through the savings and financial planning process
- Gain a better understanding of college savings, set savings objectives and goals, plus gain access to the savings help needed to make debt-free college happen
- Meet your savings goals by building a consistent and frequent savings habit
Plus, right now, savings will go twice as far with the extension of The CARES Act. It’s an excellent opportunity to save for college and double those savings.
THE INVERSANT DIFFERENCE – OUR APPROACH
We believe education is an asset that works throughout the entire life of a family and student. We take an asset-building and management approach; you build your financial investment and re-invest that asset in your education.
We know that as little as $150 in a designated educations savings account creates a college-bound and savings identity, increasing the chance of success in school.
“At Inversant, we solve the world’s toughest problem, equal access to higher education. Giving agency to low and moderate-income families is a problem, that together, we will solve.”– Heidi Hanock, CEO
For over a decade, we’ve worked to give agency to low-and-moderate income families in the Massachusetts commonwealth. Over the coming years, we’re dreaming even bigger.
With your help, this dream to democratize higher education, making it accessible and affordable to all, will become a reality. Your generous gift will offer hope and help to our students and families.
Ready to give? Learn more now.
2. COLLEGE SKILLS AND READINESS
As we expanded reach in 2021, we ramped up the delivery of both finance and college access, including skills and readiness. This includes:
- Building a comprehensive educational suite
- Designing college preparedness resources for easy access
- Providing tips, tools, and information to make informed decisions
Our overarching goal is to increase educational equity and promote economic agency within our growing constituency. With your help, we’ll move quickly and strategically, providing equal access to higher education.
Check out our most recent digital workshops on Financial Aid and FAFSA. Each course is learn-at-your-own-pace and accessible from anywhere and at any time.
3. INVERSANT 2021 SCHOLARSHIP
After piloting two scholarship programs in 2020, we refined and revised our approach to align our program with overall organizational goals and maximize impact in 2021.
But there’s no denying, it’s an uphill battle to get students to and through college. Our current education system is rife with inequity and inequality, forcing many low-to-moderate income students to make the decision between a degree and survival.
The consequences of this are clear: Every year, 1.3 million students drop out of high school in the United States. More than half of those students are students of color, and most are low-income. And although these students are born with as much potential as their more affluent peers, students growing up in low-income communities are 2.5 times less likely to be college-ready.
From financial to systemic barriers, students face obstacles every step of the way. Whether a first-generation college student or a family without the financial resources to support a college degree, Inversant is there to meet the need.
We know that choosing between feeding a family and going to college, anyone should have to make. That’s why we provide college scholarships that are need and risk-based, making it possible for students to enter, continue, and graduate.
INVERSANT RESULTS IN 2021 AND BEYOND
Inversant’s impact is greatest when participants take advantage of all three program components, but each element is designed to stand alone; students and families are free to participate in whatever combination of programs suits their circumstances.
For example, many first hear of Inversant through our high-profile scholarship application. Once engaged, we invite them to take advantage of our supportive skill-building resources, encouraging them to strengthen their ability to assess colleges’ relative costs and benefits.
Learning how to complete college and scholarship applications and establish an incentivized college savings account helps students make progress toward their education savings goals.
We anticipate more low-to-moderate income students will be able to enter, continue, and complete college due to the ongoing supportive nature of the program.
In the past decade, Inversant’s engaging, in-person financial literacy and college-access programs reached more than 2,700 families, who built a habit of saving, accumulating more than $3 million.
In the coming years, we expect the impact on individual students and their families to include lower than national average student debt, increased access to capital, and shorter college completion time, to name a few.
At scale, we expect to see higher college completion rates, increased economic voice for underserved populations, and the reduced opportunity gap and improved quality of life with higher degree attainment.
To reach those goals, we accelerated our support in 2021:
- We successfully implemented a new digital infrastructure in the past year, bringing financial aid and education services to a dramatically increased number of underserved families.
- We segmented programming, allowing individuals to access material at their own pace and focus on the topics that concern them most.
- We enhanced infrastructure and core business systems, allowing us to dramatically improve tracking of the long-term behavioral changes that result from Inversant’s programs, including quantifying savings behavior change and participant satisfaction.
We are poised in 2022 to combine twelve years of college access and savings research and direct experience, allowing us to bring our mission to scale.
And that’s where you come in!
Over the years, we’ve achieved a powerful legacy of change for families across the commonwealth because of your support. We will never stop fighting for our families and students or for access to higher education without the high-cost burden of debt.
We’ll move quickly but strategically with data driving our decisions through an agile and nimble framework. Data will guide our decisions to ensure every student can achieve a debt-free college education.
And now, as we look to the future, we see the vast opportunity for all. As an organization, we’ll provide equal access to higher education. Together, we’ll close the gaps in higher education, creating access to a college degree for all who dream of its pursuit.
Thank you once again to our major donors and to everyone who helped make a difference in the lives of Inversant families in 2021.
We couldn’t have done it without you!