How Does an IDA Work?
Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) allow participants an opportunity to build a lasting asset. The three eligible assets are college tuition, a first home, or small business. These special matched savings accounts are designed to help families and individuals establish a pattern of regular savings and purchase a lasting asset that is likely to provide long-term benefits for its owner. Whether that is increased income from starting your own business, security in paying for college, or stability in purchasing your first home, IDAs are here to help you get ahead and stay ahead.
Participants are required to save for at least six months, although most save money over the course of two years. At the end of the program every dollar deposited into the IDA by the participant is matched by a combination of federal and nonfederal funds at a rate of up to 8:1 for education, small business expenses, or first-home purchase.
A match rate means that for every $1 you save, you will have another $2, $4 or $8 added to your totals savings at completion! In North Dakota, participants are able to save up to $2,000 of their own earned income to receive a match of up to $4,000. This means if the maximum amount is saved the participant earns a total of $6,000 to use for the purchase of college tuition, small business capitalization, or purchase of their first home.
Throughout the savings period, participants are required to make deposits into their IDA from earned income meaning that the participant is employed. Participants are also required to complete financial literacy training which is a critical component as it teaches skills such as: creating and following a budget, owning and managing a bank account or credit card, credit counseling and credit repair, and guidance on refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Additionally, participants are required to attend asset-specific training. This training is focused on the participant's asset that they intend to purchase upon the completion of their IDA savings.
Hard Work Pays Off
- Stability and personal empowerment
- Combine public and private support
- Strengthen families
- Decrease in generational hardship
- Increased civic involvement
- Promote economic independence
- Teach steady and realistic savings
- Build financial knowledge and skills
Savings matches are not "giveaways." Participants earn savings matches by saving their own hard-earned dollars and taking steps to prepare for their future. Matched dollar savings accounts are a way to help hard-working individuals and families with low incomes build a more stable and secure future. Everyone benefits when members of a community have the tools or assets they need to provide for themselves and their families.
Martha Holte, Program Coordinator