About Individual Development Accounts

Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are matched savings accounts designed to help refugees save for a specific purchase. Under the IDA program, the matching funds, together with the refugee's own savings from their employment, are available for purchasing one (or more) of four savings goals:

  1. Home purchase
  2. Small business development
  3. Post secondary education or training
  4. Automobile (for employment purposes)

Public or private non-profit organizations administer IDA programming. Refugees receive basic financial training to help them understand the American financial system, budgeting, saving and credit. In addition, refugees receive training focused on the specific savings goals. The specialized training ensures that refugees understand how to manage their assets.

Successful IDA programs:

  • Improve the ability of low-income refugees to save
  • Promote participation in banking
  • Assist in education and career training
  • Increase home ownership
  • Provide access to funding

IDA grantees provide matched savings accounts to refugees whose annual income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level and whose assets, exclusive of a personal residence and one vehicle, are less than $10,000. Grantees provide matches of up to $1 for every $1 deposited by a refugee in a savings account. The total match amount provided may not exceed $2,000 for individuals or $4,000 for households. Upon enrolling in an IDA program, a refugee signs a savings plan agreement which specifies the savings goal, the match rate, and the amount the refugee will save each month.

Eligibility

In addition to persons who meet all requirements of 45 CFR 400.43, eligibility also includes:

  1. Cuban and Haitian entrants under section 501 of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-422);
  2. Certain Amerasians from Vietnam who are admitted to the U.S. as immigrants under section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, as included in the FY 1988 Continuing Resolution (Pub. L. 100-202); and
  3. Certain Amerasians from Vietnam, including U.S. citizens, under Title II of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1989 (Pub. L. 100-461), 1990 (Pub. L. 101-167), and 1991 (Pub. L. 101-513). For convenience, the term ``refugee'' is used in this notice to encompass all such eligible persons.

Technical assistance is available through the Institute for Social and Economic Development (ISED). For specific technical assistance questions, contact:

Marijana Ababovic
Consultant
Institute for Social & Economic Development
Phone: 585.342.9437
Marijana.ababovic@ised.us

Other IDA Initiatives Open to Refugees

The Administration for Children & Families, Office of Community Services (OCS) administers the Assets for Independence (AFI) program. ORR and OCS collaborate to provide refugees with access to these mainstream programs. There are more than 200 such programs across the country.  Find an IDA program near you or find more information on AFI and how to become an AFI provider.

CFED, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, is a nonprofit organization that helps Americans expand economic opportunity. One area of focus is their 2007 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, an evaluation tool which details individual state programs and policies designed to build assets. Additionally, CFED maintains a searchable IDA Directory which lists IDA programs nationwide.

Financial education resources are available from a variety of sources.

List of Current Grantees

Contact Information
Yimeem Vu
Program Analyst
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Administration for Children and Families
901 D Street SW
Washington DC 20447
Phone: 202.401.4825
Fax: 202.401.0981
yimeem.vu@acf.hhs.gov