IDA: Ben’s Success Story

Mortar board and roll of money

Saving money can be tough, especially if you’ve been a victim of a natural disaster (hello, Flood of ’08). We totally get that. But did you know that there is a very cool government assisted program that will actually MATCH your savings dollar-for-dollar? These accounts are called Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs. These funds can only be used for homeownership, higher education, job training, or starting a small business. 

Here’s a story of one of our successful IDA savers, Ben Gardner:

“I cannot fully express my gratitude towards Linn Area Credit Union for allowing me to participate in the IDA program.  

Upon graduation of high school, I began researching degrees that interested me, and started the process of applying for financial aid. Once I saw my tuition bill, I quickly realized that the loans I had received would simply not be enough. Needless to say, the thought of taking out more loans to cover the bill was not very appealing. With today’s ever increasing college expenses, and high interest rates, I began looking for alternative ways to fund my education.  

Luckily, I spoke with a financial counselor at Linn Area who told me about the IDA program. He informed me that a variety of contributors, including the State and Federal Governments, and the Iowa Credit Union Foundation, were sponsoring a program in which students could save up to two thousand dollars and have the amount matched by all three participants to be put toward educational expenses.

I couldn’t believe it; I thought it was too good to be true. I enrolled in the program immediately. By contributing some money I had received from my graduation party, and working as a pharmacy technician, I was able to save the entire two thousand dollars.  

Throughout the process, the coordinator of the program would remind to me make deposits, keeping me on track with my savings. I even received several sessions of free financial planning education that helped me achieve my goal. Now, when I have a college expense that I can’t afford, I just put in a request and I receive the money quickly.  

It feels great to not constantly worry about finding money to pay for books, fees, and supplies. Having the additional financial assistance from the IDA program has even allowed me to focus more on school. I don’t have to work as much to keep up with all of the bills. I feel truly blessed to have been allowed this opportunity.”

 – Ben Gardner

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Ben! We’re glad we were able to help you get a fabulous education by taking advantage of this amazing government sponsored program!

For those of you whose ears have perked up, do note that funds are limited and you must meet certain qualifications to take part in the program. Go here for more details! The program is very popular and actually has a wait list – with one exception. If you’ve were affected by a natural disaster with a federal disaster declaration (regardless of the year!) you get to bypass the wait list! Of course, you must meet the regular program income requirements and have some source of earned income from which to make deposits.

Ready to talk with someone? Get in touch with Sandra at our SE office by phone at 892-7396 or by email scleppe@linnareacu.org.