What does it cost a non-profit community organization to run a “high-touch” program for Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)? This paper presents final unit-cost estimates (updating Schreiner 2002a and 2000a) for the Community Action Project of Tulsa County. A participant-month of IDA services had program costs of about $61 (excluding matches). With net monthly IDA savings of about $20 per participant, $1 saved in an IDA cost about $3. Benefits were not measured, so it is not known whether they exceed costs. In any case, knowledge of costs helps inform IDA policy. While not precluding complementary “hightouch”, targeted, time-limited, community-based IDA programs with state, local, or private funding to provide financial education and other supports, it seems likely that an inclusive, permanent IDA program would require a high-tech, “low-touch” basic design run by low-cost asset managers with federal funding.
Schreiner, M. (2004). Program costs for Individual Development Accounts: Final figures from CAPTC in Tulsa (CSD Report No. 04-17). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.