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Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

Published: September 27, 2012
Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)


The objectives of the IDA Program are to increase the ability of low-income refugees to save; promote their participation in the financial institutions of this country; assist refugees in advancing their education; increase home ownership; and assist refugees in gaining access to capital.

Program Description

Individual development accounts are matched savings accounts available for the purchase of specific assets. 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: home purchase; microenterprise capitalization; post secondary education or training; and in some cases, purchase of an automobile if necessary to maintain or upgrade employment.

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.

In addition, the IDA grantees provide basic financial training which is intended to assist refugees in understanding the American financial system, budgeting, saving, and credit. The IDA grantees also provide training focused on the specific savings goals. The specialized training ensures that refugees receive appropriate information on purchasing and managing their asset purchases.

Eligible Entities
Public or private non-profit organizations

Targeted Populations
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.

Individual Development Accounts Results
Office of Refugee Resettlement IDA project 2007-2010

Program Summary Outcomes

The following are the summary data for the 54 Individual Development Account (IDA) program grantees from October 1999 to September 2008. Click here to view the outcomes. (doc 99KB)

Technical Assistance

ORR makes technical assistance available for its IDA grantees through ISED solutions. The ISED website includes many IDA resources specific to the ORR program. For specific technical assistance questions, contact:

Marijana Ababovic
Institute for Social & Economic Development
Phone: 585.342.9437

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 are collaborating on assisting refugees access these mainstream programs.  There are more than 200 such programs across the country!

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.

Contact Information

Yimeem Vu
Program Analyst
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Administration for Children and Families
Mary E. Switzer Building
330 C Street, SW
Washington DC 20201
Phone: 202.401.4825
Fax: 202.401.0981

Last Reviewed: May 14, 2018
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