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Although Maryland offers several college affordability and debt alleviation programs for post-secondary students, financial education remains optional. Campus-based programs operate at the discretion of institutional administrators. Given the decentralized and optional nature of campus-based financial education in Maryland, and the implications for student financial well-being,Campus-Based Financial Education in Maryland: A Survey of Post-secondary Institutions (SPIN) was conducted to assess how institutions of higher education have approached providing financial education to their students.

Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are long-term savings or investment accounts that provide incentives to help children build savings for their future, particularly for post-secondary education and training. Currently, more than 382,000 children have accounts through 54 CSA programs across the country, including city-wide programs in St. Louis, San Francisco, Oakland, and Boston.[i] CSAs are built on the premise that low-to-moderate income people can save and that a match provides both an incentive to save more, as well as a path towards higher savings amounts.

CSAs’ popularity as a policy solution for college and career access and completion was bolstered by research released in 2013. Dr. William Elliott found that low-to-moderate income children with $1-$499 in college savings are three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate from college.[ii] These statistics provide a compelling reason to examine the feasibility of CSAs in Baltimore City and to determine the critical success factors that would be needed.

[i] The Movement Takes Off: The State of the Children’s Savings Field 2017 (Washington, DC: Prosperity Now, 2018).

[ii] William Elliott, Hyun-a Song and Ilsung Nam, Small Dollar Children’s Savings Accounts, Income and College Outcomes (St. Louis, MO: Center for Social Development, Washington University in St. Louis, 2013).

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Funders recognize that the effectiveness and impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are limited by the credit’s participation rate and many low-income taxpayers’ reliance on costly tax preparation services. At the same time, funders know that philanthropy cannot always take on the vital task of funding grantees to advance the work that addresses these challenges alone. Public sector entities (cities, counties, states) can be critical partners in this effort.

Early in the summer of 2017, thousands of community tax preparers across the country engaged in a campaign to defeat proposed cuts to the funding that enables them to provide resources to low-income tax filers nationwide. The effort highlights not only the power of coordinated advocacy, but also the vulnerability of public programs that serve low-income taxpayers.

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