Publication Date



If low-income families believe that having savings will jeopardize their public assistance benefits, they are unlikely to participate in Child Development Account (CDA) programs. This policy brief (1) documents the impact of CDA savings on five public assistance programs (Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, LIHEAP, and TANF) and (2) identifies opportunities for policy change at the state level. CDA savings held in agency-owned accounts do not affect public assistance because students and families do not own the savings. Personal deposits held in individually-owned CDAs may affect assistance, but our review shows that they often do not, especially when held in 529 college savings plans. Yet, most states have at least one asset limit, and the perception that assets reduce assistance probably still exists. Thus, an important goal remains to abolish asset limits in means-tested assistance programs.

Document Type

Policy Brief


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building

Original Citation

Beverly, S. G., & Clancy, M. (2017, April). Asset limits for means-tested public assistance: Considerations for Child Development Account proponents (CSD Policy Brief No. 17-24). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


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