Tara Abrams, Recent PVCC Graduate, Saves with VIDA

Tara Abrams moved to Charlottesville from Lynchburg, Virginia because she was interested in exploring new opportunities.  While she was working at the University of Virginia, she was inspired by the students she came in contact with and decided to go back to school and enrolled as a student at PVCC.  She qualified for financial assistance there, but in order to further her education, Tara started researching other help. That’s when she saw a flyer on the VIDA program and decided to apply.

Tara started working with Piedmont Housing Alliance’s Shelley Murphy in 2012 and enrolled in the VIDA (Virginia Individual Development Account) program where she would take advantage of this program for a couple of years to help her with her educational expenses.  VIDA participants take financial management classes and then the savings habits they learn are incentivized by the VIDA program matching their savings with $8 for every $1 they save, up to a maximum of $4,500 in matching funds, to be used towards education, home ownership, or a business.  As an example, someone can save as little as $500 and receive a total of $4,000 in matching funds.

With help from VIDA funds, Tara says she was able to help cover school expenses such as textbooks and school supplies and still pay her bills on time.  Tara says, “I am just so grateful.  It actually helped me survive!”  On top of the help she received to pay for school, Tara says she has also been able to put money aside for savings.  Tara said the wealth of knowledge she got out of the program, from financial tips and workshops to learning how to save and budget, were vital to her and really made a difference for her personally.

After graduating this past May with her Associate’s degree, Tara moved to Harrisonburg to pursue her next degree. Tara says this move was much easier as she now knows all about renters’ rights as well as the ins and outs of lending and borrowing thanks to VIDA.

When asked what she liked about the program, she replied, “Shelley was always there when I needed help.  Anything that I needed, she was on it!” Tara was able to save around $2,000 through the program. She hopes that the rest of her VIDA savings will go towards purchasing a laptop and a printer to help her pursue her dreams of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at James Madison University where she plans to attend as an incoming junior this fall.   We wish Tara all the best!

Learn more about Tara’s story here in a short video produced by PVCC as well as this commercial.