Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion

  1. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers - Executive Summary

    A majority of US households are struggling financially and are barely able to keep up with their day-to-day expenses let alone invest in their futures. Many struggle to pay their bills and utilities, they forego preventive medical treatment, they do not have savings to deal with financial emergencies, and they are increasingly relying on debt to make ends meet. Moreover, too many households do not have access to the basic bank or savings accounts that they so desperately need to manage their financial lives. Building Bridges, Removing Barriers proposes that financial inclusion—access to basic bank or savings accounts—can operate as a “bridge” to households’ financial health. A bridge is an infrastructural solution that offers safe passage over rough terrain and a connection to new opportunities. For households stranded on islands of financial struggles, a bridge may be a welcomed passageway to secure ground. Households may be able to afford their day-to-day expenses like rent and utility bills and save for financial emergences like an unexpected job loss or major car or home repair. Once on secure ground, households can advance on their journey more easily. They have enough money saved to recover from financial emergencies, keep their debt at manageable levels, and begin to invest in the future by saving for retirement. From this perspective, financial inclusion by having access to basic bank or savings accounts can have the dual effects of stabilizing or securing households’ financial health and advancing or mobilizing it.

    Citation

    Friedline, T. (2016). Building bridges, removing barriers: The unacceptable state of households' financial health and how financial inclusion can help. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Friedline, Terri

    Financial Inclusion Executive Summary Year 2016

  2. Latino Immigrant Families Saving in Children's Savings Account Program against Great Odds - Executive Summary

    This study uses administrative records from New Mexico’s Prosperity Kids Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program and in-depth interviews with a sample of participating parents and children to examine savings outcomes and experiences for these low-income Latino families. At this point in the CSA’s evolution, 29% of Prosperity Kids accounts have seen deposits from families’ saving. As of December 2015, among families who contributed in addition to match or incentives, 54% have saved more than $100 in their account. The median total account value for these families was $345 at the end of 2015 (mean, $394). The median amount of family deposits is $123 (mean, $155), with median match deposits of $124 (mean, $139). Average monthly contributions are $12 (ranging from <$1 to $220). Average quarterly contributions were $31.

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    Citation

    Lewis, M., O'Brien, M., Elliott, W., Harrington, K., Crawford, M. (2016) Immigrant Latina Families Saving in Children’s Savings Account Program against Great Odds: The Case of Prosperity Kids - Executive Summary. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.

    Authors

    Lewis, Melinda, O'Brien, Megan, Jung, Euijin, Harrington, Kelly, Jones-Layman, Amanda

    Children's Savings Account Executive Summary Year 2016

  3. Harnessing Assets to Build an Economic Mobility System: Reimagining the American Welfare System

    Harnessing Assets to Build an Economic Mobility System provides new empirical insights that help to explain what so many Americans intuitively grasp, and what U.S. policy debates so studiously ignore: Upward economic mobility and a chance at financial security are slipping beyond the grasp of many households. This report examines the drivers of mobility by distinguishing between standard of living, which is related to consumption and available income, and economic mobility and wellbeing, which require assets in addition to income and fuel multiplier effects. The former is supported by the consumption-based welfare system, including programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly food stamps), which is designed to help households exit poverty and consume at a level consistent with a near-poverty level. Upward mobility and wellbeing is advanced by an asset-based welfare system, largely made up of tax credits and deductions that helps more advantaged Americans accumulate assets. By highlighting the significance of assets for achieving economic mobility and true wellbeing, this analysis emphasizes the importance of building policy structures capable of helping households generate assets, not just increase income. The report proposes Economic Mobility Accounts—tax-advantaged savings accounts that help Americans of all income levels save and accrue assets across the life course—as a policy structure that may once again make upward mobility accessible to all Americans.

    Citation

    Elliott, W. and Lewis, M. (2014). Harnessing Assets to Build an Economic Mobility System: Reimagining the American Welfare System. Lawrence, KS: Assets and Education Initiative (AEDI).

    Authors

    Elliott III, William, Lewis, Melinda

    Wealth Transfer Executive Summary Year 2014

  4. Are Student Loans are Widening the Wealth Gap: Time to Focus on Equity

    According to Dr. Thomas Shapiro, the American dream “is the promise that those who work equally hard will reap roughly equal rewards” (Shapiro, 2004, p. 87). Higher education is widely regarded as a vehicle for sustaining this dream. This belief in the potential of education to act as an equalizer is supported by research, which consistently shows that a person who attains a four-year college degree earns more than a person who does not attain a four-year degree. Indeed, there is considerable evidence that educational achievement is the primary way that Americans born in poverty may leave it. Stories of those who escape poverty through education serve to support a reassuring narrative: providing access to higher education is all that is needed to keep the American dream vibrant.

    There have always been holes in this vision of American success, but today more than ever, higher education’s role as a force for equity has deteriorated, such that college may serve more to perpetuate the status quo than to create ladders of opportunity. Tracing and naming the factors that contribute to the erosion of higher education’s equalizing role is an essential step in reinvigorating the American dream. Uncovering those factors begins with an honest conversation about student debt.

    Related items: Briefs

    Student Loan Debt Threatens Household Balance Sheets Status Quo: Divergent Financial Aid Systems Yield Disparate Outcomes High-Dollar Student Debt May Compromise Educational Outcomes Before College: Building Expectations and Facilitating Achievement Executive Summary

    The Student Loan Problem in America: It is Not Enough to Say, “Students Will Eventually Recover” Infographics

    Today: Two Paths To Higher Ed Student Loan Debt: Consequences Tomorrow . . . And For Years to Come Reports

    Student Loans are Widening The Wealth Gap: Time to Focus on Equity The Student Loan Problem in America: It is Not Enough to Say, “Students Will Eventually Recover” Unequal Outcomes: Student Loan Effects on Young Adults’ Net Worth Accumulation

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    Authors

    Elliott III, William, Lewis, Melinda

    College Debt Executive Summary Year 2013

  5. Building Expectations, Delivering Results: Asset-Based Financial Aid and The Future of Higher Education

    American society reflects considerable class immobility, much of which is due to the wide gap in college completion rates between advantaged and disadvantaged groups of students. In the introduction we discuss the factors that cause unequal college completion rates, introduce assets as an explanation stratification scholars often ignore, and then outline the remainder of this report.

    Related items: Briefs

    From a Debt-Dependent to an Asset-Based Financial Aid Model Institutional Facilitation and CSA Effects CSAs As An Early Commitment Financial Aid Strategy From Disadvantaged Student to College Graduates: The Role of CSAs How CSAs Facilitate Saving and Asset Accumulation Designing for Success Investing In Our Future Children’s Savings Accounts and a 21st Century Financial Aid System Executive Summary

    Building Expectations, Delivering Results: Asset-Based Financial Aid and The Future of Higher Education Infographics

    College Savings Accounts: More Degrees, Less Debt The Role of Institutional Facilitation in Academic Success

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    Authors

    AEDI

    Children's Savings Account Executive Summary Year 2013

  6. The Student Loan Problem in America: It is Not Enough To Say, "Students Will Eventually Recover"

    According to Shapiro, the American Dream “is the promise that those who work equally hard will reap roughly equal rewards” (Shapiro, 2004, p. 87); that is, the American Dream holds that this country is a meritocracy where effort and ability are the primary determinants of success. Institutions provide the economic conditions that make it possible for people to believe that their hard work and ability will determine their success or failure. This task is facilitated by Americans’ strong desire to feel as though their destiny can be controlled and that institutions will ‘echo’ their own contributions, rather than work against them.1 Primed to look for evidence of this ‘effort plus ability equals outcomes’ equation, Americans cling to this ideal, even as it recedes in reality for many. There is no evidence that Americans today are less capable or less committed than in previous generations, in the aggregate. Instead, particularly in today’s highly specialized, technology driven, global world, the upward mobility that animates the American Dream is only possible if effort and ability are combined with institutional might.

    Related items: Briefs

    Student Loan Debt Threatens Household Balance Sheets Status Quo: Divergent Financial Aid Systems Yield Disparate Outcomes High-Dollar Student Debt May Compromise Educational Outcomes Before College: Building Expectations and Facilitating Achievement Executive Summary

    Student Loans are Widening The Wealth Gap: Time to Focus on Equity Infographics

    Today: Two Paths To Higher Ed Student Loan Debt: Consequences Tomorrow . . . And For Years to Come Reports

    Student Loans are Widening The Wealth Gap: Time to Focus on Equity The Student Loan Problem in America: It is Not Enough to Say, “Students Will Eventually Recover” Unequal Outcomes: Student Loan Effects on Young Adults’ Net Worth Accumulation

    Read Publication

    Authors

    Elliott III, William, Lewis, Melinda

    College Debt Executive Summary Year 2013