AFI Reassigning Participants Among Your AFI Projects
Many AFI grantees receive multiple program grants, requiring them to manage and budget for multiple AFI projects simultaneously. In such a case, a grantee may decide to transfer an IDA participant from one project to another. This is a common practice, and grantees considering it should review the official Information Memorandum (IM) which details official policy on the topic.
Read the entire IM to understand the process of reassigning participants among AFI projects. To complement that policy document, below is an overview of why, when, and how to transfer IDA savers.
- Why Reassign
- Restrictions on Reassigning
- When to Reassign During the Participant's Saving Period
- Who Can Be Reassigned
- What Happens to the Match Money
- How Reassignment Affects Reporting
► Why Reassign
Reassigning participants can help maximize use of each AFI award. A grantee with multiple projects should plan to use all the Federal funds available for each grant. If the grantee is spending funds more quickly from one grant than another (one project may have a lower retention rate, for example), it might make sense to transfer participants to the lower spending project.
A grantee might also transfer an IDA participant who needs more savings time to a grant with a later end date.
► Restrictions on Reassigning
- Reallocating matching funds not yet drawn down is limited only by non-Federal funders' restrictions. The grantee should be sure to comply with any restrictions a non-Federal funder has requested before using that donor’s funds to transfer a participant.
- A grantee may not reassign Federal dollars drawn down for specific projects. The grantee will have to return any unspent Federal dollars drawn down by the end of the project period. After the grantee spends Federal dollars in one Project Reserve Fund, it cannot replenish that account with "extra" funds from another.
► When to Reassign in the Participant's Saving Period
A grantee with multiple AFI projects overlapping should consider waiting to assign participants to specific projects when they open their IDAs.
The grantee would still need to be certain that there are, across all its projects, match funds available for each participant's asset purchase when the time comes. The grantee should determine eligibility for its projects, but assign participants to a specific project only when they are ready to make their purchase, having completed saving, financial education, and any other requirements. If it is easiest, the grantee may wait to assign participants until just before the final asset purchase.
The AFI² project management tool can make taking this approach easier.
With this strategy, the grantee can maintain flexibility, maximize use of available funds, and avoid the additional tracking and documentation associated with a transfer.
If a grantee has assigned a participant to a specific project from the start, it can still reassign the participant before the final asset purchase if the grantee believes it will enhance outcomes for both projects.
► Who May Reassign
- Participants must be in good standing for grantees to reassign them. To qualify for match funds, participants should be saving according to terms of the Savings Plan Agreement, following financial education requirements, and be in compliance with other project requirements.
- Participants must also meet all eligibility requirements at the time they are reassigned to a different project. Grantees do not have to consider participants’ existing IDA savings when determining their personal net worth for eligibility in the new project.
- Grantees cannot transfer a participant more than once.
- A participant cannot be reassigned after making qualified withdrawals for an asset purchase, regardless of how much of the potential match they have expended from the project’s Reserve Fund.
► What Happens to the Match Money Designated for a Reassigned
Because the grantee must reassign a participant before he or she makes an asset purchase, the move will not immediately affect the disbursements from either Project Reserve Fund. When the participant actually makes the asset purchase under the new project, the funds will come from the Reserve Fund for that project. Grantees can never move Federal dollars from one Reserve Fund to another. Reassignment may, however, free up Federal and non-Federal match funds for a different saver.
Remember, a grantee must always have at least as many non-Federal funds deposited as it has Federal funds drawn down, across all its projects.
There may be cases where the grantee can move non-Federal funds from one Project Reserve Fund to another. If a reassignment leaves unspent, unobligated non-Federal dollars in the original Project Reserve, the grantee may move those funds to another project. In such a case, the grantee and its financial partner(s) should consider balances, drawdowns, obligations, expenditures, and remaining project time to make sure the transfer of funds would be an effective move.
► How Reassignment Affects Reporting
A grantee should account for each asset purchase in the reports on the Project Reserve Fund to which the participant was assigned at the time. The purchase, Federal and non-Federal expenditures, amount of savings used, match funds used, and other related information should be captured in the financial report, data report, and any narrative reports specific to that Reserve Fund.
If a participant was included in a data or narrative report for a project that he or she was later transferred out of, the next reports would show deductions from one project and additions to the second in applicable areas. Such changes would affect the totals of each project before the asset purchase takes place.
The rules and reasons for reassignments can be hard to understand in the abstract. Use this example to help grasp how the process often works:
An IDA saver, "Sarah," is already assigned to a project and has met her goal of saving $1,000 for a first home. However, she has not yet found the right property and could use extra time to improve her credit. The AFI project provides $4,000 in Federal and non-Federal match. The grantee finds that within Sarah’s original project, more participants are meeting their savings goals and qualifying for matched withdrawals than originally expected. Another project has lower retention and completion rates.
The grantee may reassign Sarah to the other project, whether it is older or newer than the original one. The grantee reallocates the funds obligated for Sarah in the original Project Reserve Fund to match the savings of another participant, "Jack." After reassigning Sarah, the grantee obligates funds for her in the other Reserve Fund.
The transfer will have no effect on the grantee's financial reports until either Sarah or Jack makes his or her asset purchase. The grantee will include the expenditures from the relevant Reserve Fund in its next financial report. It would also note the reassignment and asset purchase in the annual data report and narrative reports.
Click here for information about reassigning grantees among AFI projects.