The Dallas Morning News (Texas)
By: Robert T. Garrett
December 10, 2010
AUSTIN - A program to help working-poor Texans save for college will begin next spring at some community tax centers, a newly formed group announced Thursday.
Partial matching money will be offered to parents who buy savings bonds with part of their tax refunds at certain Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites.
Already, at hundreds of such locations, community group volunteers trained by the Internal Revenue Service help people who cannot prepare their own tax returns - generally, filers with incomes $49,000 and less.
Opportunity Texas, a new group trying to expand the ranks of the middle class, has awarded a grant to United Ways of Texas and Foundation Communities, which owns affordable apartment complexes in Carrollton and Arlington.
At tax-preparation sites yet to be chosen, they will give gift cards or small amounts of money to encourage parents to buy bonds for their children using check-offs on their federal tax returns.
"It's amazing what a small incentive can actually encourage folks to do, so $10 could actually spur somebody to buy a $50 or $100 savings bond," said Don Baylor, a senior researcher at the Center for Public Priorities, an Austin research group.
Citi executive Debbie Taylor of Dallas said studies have shown that a child is seven times more likely to go to college if a savings bond has been bought or a college savings account opened in the child's name.
Taylor said her company is supporting Opportunity Texas' efforts to improve low-income Texans' financial literacy and opportunities to save.