Publication Date



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 strategiesmeant to enhance the well-being of low-incomepeople 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 are structured accounts that provide matches for savings used for home purchase, microenterprise, retirement savings, 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.Results indicate that low-income people can save and build assets for post-secondary education in IDAs. Furthermore, saving for post-secondary education moderates some relationships between savings outcomes and other characteristics of participants and of IDA programs. Finally, we discuss implications for policy and social-work practice for using IDAs to promote the development of human capital by low-income people.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building


Subsequent publication: Zhan, M., & Schreiner, M. (2005). Saving for post-secondary education in Individual Development Accounts. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 32(3), 139–163.

Original Citation

Zhan, M., & Schreiner, M. (2004). Saving for post-secondary education in Individual Development Accounts (CSD Working Paper No. 04-11). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD)


ADD, American Dream Demonstration, IDA, individual development account, savings outcomes, human capital, post-secondary education, college savings