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Assets program provides college payment guidance

Assets for Independence (AFI) is a community-based approach for giving low-income families a hand up out of poverty. Utilizing existing individual and community assets, AFI strengthens communities from within by participants saving earned income through the use of matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDA).

The recently announced AFI program at Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development is through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

The program is designed to assist eligible current or prospective students by improving their economic situation, providing strategies for long term savings behavior, and helping them pay for education or other costs associated with it.

All eligible participants will complete financial literacy training and save $500 over a period of 6-18 months with a minimum deposit of $25 per month. The IDA program can match a student’s savings with $4,000 in grants and scholarship funds after their fulfillment of the program’s commitments.

“This program is an excellent way to teach college students about the importance of saving, and educate them about the benefits and risks of credit and how to be responsible with their finances,” said David Tanner, AFI program coordinator. “The eight-to-one match is unusually generous, so much so that potential participants can’t quite believe it’s true. Believe me, it’s true.”

Shera Phillips, an AmeriCorps*VISTA member serving with the program, believes that financial education is extremely important.

“Opening an IDA is simply investing in the future,” said Phillips. “I know a few people who wish they could finish their college degree but can’t due to outstanding balances. This initiative can really help low-income students who are in danger of not finishing their degree due to financial reasons.”

AFI is located at the Center for Community and Economic Development at 1417 College Street in Cleveland, on the outskirts of Delta State’s campus. Those interested in learning more about the program should call 662-846-4808 or email or