Utah Individual Development Account Network available to help low-income individuals raise money, become financially sound

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 1 2012 12:00 p.m. MST

According to a 2010-2011 IDA program survey performed nationally by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, half the people that use the money for an education will attend a four-year public or private university. Twenty percent of the participants will use the money to attend a vocational school. Approximately 30 percent will attend a community college.

Brigham Young University, Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University and others across the region have all seen students attend college by receiving financial assistance from UIDAN.

A new budget and credit report must be submitted once a year. Wunderli says the program encourages people to make their budget a living document. This is the program's way of checking up on personal budgets.

Once money has been saved and matched, UIDAN will write a check directly to the vendor for the goal being met.

"This ensures that funders know we are purchasing an effective asset," Wunderli says.

Prior to purchasing the asset, the participant must complete training specific to that asset. For example, a person wishing to use the money towards a college education would attend a series of classes focusing on student loan debt and the return on investment in their current area of study.

A majority of the participants in UIDAN are between the ages of 20 and 39. However, Wunderli said there also has been a new interest by an older generation concerned about retirement funds.

Fourteen businesses in Grand County have been started because of individual participation in UIDAN.

The survey performed by CFED estimates that new small business owners using an IDA have created 2,757 jobs across the country.

"Their economic development director said we like what you are doing down here. We want more of you," says Wunderli. "So we are really helping rebuild Utah's economy one family at a time."

UIDAN is a program of the Fair Credit Foundation. For more information, visit Email: bcarreon@desnews.com

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