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Researchers at the UNC Center for Community Capital will evaluate the impact of new small dollar loan program aimed at addressing the critical barrier of cost for immigrants working to become U.S citizens.

Although there are multiple barriers on the path to citizenship, the naturalization fee of nearly $700 remains a significant one. CASA de Maryland, a community organization working with low-income Latinos, has created the Maryland New Americans Loan Program to help legal permanent residents finance the cost of gaining citizenship.

The loan program seeks to increase the rate of naturalization in Maryland by helping immigrants pay the cost of becoming citizens. It also aims to promote financial stability and sound financial behaviors through a loan product that offers incentives for timely and complete loan repayment.

Participants receive financial coaching and education from local volunteers for six months. Once the loan is repaid, CASA refunds the initial application fee of $25 and matches it with a $25 savings incentive to encourage participants to continue saving.

The UNC Center for Community Capital will collect data at key points throughout the loan repayment period and report on a range of impact indicators: changes in financial literacy, intentions to save and financial values and goals. The evaluation will inform proposals to replicate the project in other cities across the country.

Program evaluations of consumer financial services are a key area of expertise and research for the UNC Center for Community Capital, the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative power of capital on households and communities in the United States. Part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the center offers data and analysis that helps policymakers, advocates and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to more people more effectively. For more information, visit or call (919) 843-2140.

Topics(s): Debt & Credit, Financial Inclusion, Financial Services Industry
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