Earn & Learn: Put Your Savings to Work

The Earn & Learn program at the University of Saint Mary is a limited offering that gives students an opportunity to triple their college savings.

Only Kansas residents who meet the below qualifications are eligible to participate. USM only has five openings in the program available at any given time. Participants can begin saving into the program as early as their senior year of high school — earning up to $6,000 / year toward their education at Saint Mary.

Saint Mary is one of just a handful of universities across the country offering such an innovative and rewarding program — combining a college savings strategy and financial education.

Program Qualifications:

  • Must have an earned income falling below 200% of the federal poverty level (see chart below)

  • Employed (USM student worker and/or off-campus job)  

  • Contribute at least $20/month for 6 consecutive months to an Individual Development Account (IDA)


Contact Financial Aid at 913-682-5151 x6450 or by email at finaid@stmary.edu.

More On Earn & Learn


What are the income guidelines to qualify for the Earn & Learn Program?  

Earn & Learn investors must have earned income from a job falling below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Household Size — Household Income
1 — $24,120 or less
2 — $32,480 or less
3 — $40,840 or less
4 — $49,200 or less
5 — $57,560 or less
6 — $65,920 or less
7 — $74,280 or less
8 — $82,640 or less
For families / households with more than 8 persons,
add $8,360 for each additional person.


What is the maximum amount of savings matched by Earn & Learn?

Student Savings — $2,000
Matching Funds — $4,000
Total Available to help pay for USM expenses — $6,000

How do I set-up an Earn & Learn savings account?

Earn & Learn savings accounts are joint accounts opened at an Earn & Learn partner financial institution in our community. You and Interfaith Housing Service (IHS) are both authorized signers on the accounts—neither party can withdraw funds without the other’s approval.

After you complete the Money Management financial education class, and you turn in all homework assignments, you are given paperwork to take to the financial institution authorizing you to open a special IDA savings account in your name.

How do I receive the 2:1 match?  

In order to receive the 2:1 match of your savings, you must:

  • Complete the six-hour Finding and Saving Cash—Financial Education Class (online).

  • Complete four one-hour life-skills workshops.  

  • Deposit $20 in an IDA account for a minimum of six consecutive months.

How are assets purchases made?  

When you reach your savings goal, and you’re ready to make your purchase, an invoice along with a signed savings withdrawal slip are submitted to Interfaith Housing Service (IHS). IHS makes arrangements to draw one-third of the amount requested from your savings account. An IHS check is prepared for the remaining two-thirds of the amount due. Both the check from your account and the IHS check are sent directly to the University of Saint Mary.

What happens if I decide to withdraw from the program?  

Though the Financial Aid Office discourages you from withdrawing, we also understand situations arise making it difficult to continue. If you are unable to continue in the program, you will receive all deposited funds in your savings account. It is always your money.

And just as situations arise preventing you from participating in the program, your situation may also change. You are always eligible to try again and re-enter the program 12 months after withdrawing. You must complete the financial education class again, and open another IDA savings account.

What if I miss making a deposit?

We’ll work with you to get caught up on your monthly commitment. We ask students to contact us if they know they’re going to miss a monthly deposit. If you miss two deposits in one calendar year, we’ll provide additional budgeting assistance to help you find money to save each month. While our goal is to see you succeed, if you miss three deposits in one calendar year, we must terminate you from the program.

What if there is an emergency, and I need to withdraw funds from my account?

We have procedures in place for making an emergency withdrawal. Emergency withdrawals are available only to cover housing needs or medical expenses, and the amount withdrawn must be repaid to your account within a year.