To get a family ready to send a child to college, sometimes all it takes is $100.

That's the principle behind a proposal in New Hampshire to establish children's savings accounts, where every student in certain counties would receive $100 in seed money that could only be accessed after the age of 18 to pay for college.

While fifty states have established incentivized savings plans called 529s, they are usually targeted to families of means and have not always been successful in reaching lower-income families. Paul Reville, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor and former Massachusetts Secretary of Education, said the children's savings account model remedies that.

"Targeting low-income families who don't have a college-going tradition...and giving them incentives to begin putting even small amounts of money aside for college is not only a great benefit from the standpoint of building some financial stability, but even more importantly, it builds a college-going orientation from very early in life," Reville said. 

That college-going orientation is essential, Reville said, both in planning financially for the future and in setting high expectations for children.

"I can't emphasize it enough," he said. "That college-going orientation, the mentality that from the get-go from age five years old, we're thinking of you going to college, we're setting aside money and you need to be doing the work that will get you there at school."

Incentives for children's savings accounts have varied from state to state. Private organizations running similar programs have incentivized ongoing spending by, for example, matching $50 to every $25 a family saved. Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island each have their own programs, and Vermont is working to implement one.

One state notably absent from that list, however? Massachusetts. That's something that should change, said Reville.

"We've had private nonprofits doing work in that area," he said. "We should be thinking about this in a policy, sense."

Paul Reville is the Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration. To hear more from Reville, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.