Post-secondary education, individual development accounts, assets building, welfare reform


Low-income people have less access to opportunities for post-secondary education, and the welfare reform in 1996 further limited access for welfare recipients. Since welfare reform, there has been an increasing interest in strategies meant to enhance the well-being of low-income people through education and the development of human capital. In this study, we examine how low-income people saved for post-secondary education in Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) in a nationwide demonstration. IDAs provide matches for savings used primarily for home purchase, microenterprise, and post-secondary education. We examine how savings outcomes differed between participants who intended to use their savings for post-secondary education and other participants. We also look at how these differences in savings outcomes were associated with difference in participantc haracteristicsa nd in IDA design across different programsi n the demonstration.

Results indicate that the savings outcomes of "education savers" were different from other participants. Furthermore, savings for post-secondary education moderated some relationships between savings outcomes and other characteristics of participants and of IDA programs. Implications are discussed for policy and social-work practice for using IDAs to promote human-capital development by low-income people.

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