Financial Education and Asset Building Programs for Welfare Recipients and Low Income Workers: The Illinois Experience

There’s more to leaving poverty than finding a job. Aside from a regular paycheck, a whole set of skills are needed to make sound financial decisions, build savings, establish good credit, and achieve the American dream of owning a home, car, or small business, or pursuing higher education. Many welfare recipients entering the workforce for the first time, as well as low-income workers at risk of dependence upon public assistance, lack these skills. Additionally, confusing and administratively burdensome resource-counting rules in public benefit programs discourage savings and asset building and exacerbate asset poverty among welfare recipients and the working poor.