Using the IDA for College Tuition

United Way’s Individual Development Account (IDA) is a special U.S. government-funded savings program that allows qualified applicants to have up to $2,000 of earned income savings matched with $4,000 for a total of $6,000 that can be used to help achieve life-changing financial goals, such as the purchase of a home or college-related expenses. United Way of Central Alabama serves as an administrator for the IDA program.

IDA participant Leandrea Frazier, who is working toward her nursing degree, believes the Individual Development Account has made a real difference in her spending patterns while also supplementing her savings and making it easier to cover her expenses. “Being a single mother with three children, words can’t express the great appreciation that I have for United Way’s IDA program. Once I was accepted into the program, I immediately felt relief from my financial burden of school tuition. Becoming part of the IDA program has allowed me to work less and focus more on my educational path to become a registered nurse.”

Leandrea said that saving money has always been a challenge, but the IDA program has made it much easier. “The restraint of not being able to withdraw money without prior authorization is what helped me the most,” she said. “Being accepted into this program has given me not only some financial stability for school, but it has also given me guidance on how to save more money, increase my credit score and help prepare myself and children for a better future. The IDA program has been a tremendous help to me and my family.”

In summary, the Individual Development Account is a no-fee savings account that participants open at a partnering financial institution, where they make monthly deposits of at least $25. Participants are required to attend free financial education classes and credit counseling (if necessary) and set financial goals that will allow them to become financially self-sufficient. Once the savings goals are achieved, participants’ savings are matched with federal grant funds to be used for a home purchase, college/job-training expenses or to start or expand a small business. To learn more about the IDA program, click here.