IDEA: Frequently Asked Questions

What does “IDEA” mean?

IDEA is an acronym that stands for “Individual Development Education Account.” It is a special matched savings account.  These accounts are designed to help families and individuals of modest means establish a pattern of regular saving and purchase a productive asset – with the IDEA Program, that asset is a post-secondary education.

What does matched savings account mean?

The IDEA program will offer an 8:1 savings match, meaning that for every dollar you save as part of the program, you will receive another eight dollars. So when you save $500, you will be eligible for $4,000 in match money and have access to the full $4,500 for eligible expenses.

What will my IDEA scholarship cover?

Your savings and scholarship funds will be applied to tuition, fees, books and other approved education related expenses.

How will I be receiving my IDEA scholarship?

Once you apply and are accepted to the IDEA program, you will save $500 over the course of six to eighteen months. Your savings will be matched 8:1. Your scholarship will be applied over the course of your first two semesters at Goshen College. Your savings and scholarship will be directly transferred to Goshen College upon completion of all program requirements.

Is this just a scholarship or are there other services provided for me?

In order to receive the matching funds for the IDEA program, you will need to save regularly for at least six months. During that time, you will also be required to complete a financial education course through Goshen College, three activities included in the college’s “Pathways to Career” program, and attend at least one meeting with your academic advisor. Your savings and scholarship funds will be sent directly to Goshen College after you have finished these activities.

Why should I consider applying for the IDEA program?

Not only does the scholarship increase the amount of financial aid you can receive and decrease the overall debt that you will graduate with, the overall program is also designed to provide you with ongoing support and additional resources to ensure that you leave Goshen College a well-rounded individual ready to participate in the economy and control your personal finances responsibly.

Can I use the IDEA scholarship for attending any university/college?

No. This program is through Goshen College only. You must apply to attend and be admitted to the college in order to use the scholarship funds.

What if I already attend Goshen College? Am I eligible to apply for the IDEA program?

Not at this time. The program is currently meant for new, first-year students. Financial Aid staff will contact you if this changes at a later date.

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen or have a certain immigration status in order to qualify?

No. The only requirements relating to status is that you must have an official ID to present at time of application (Driver’s License, Employment Authorization Card, State-Issued ID, etc.), you must be able to open an U.S. Bank Account, and you must have lived in the United States for at least six months prior to opening the account. This means that DACA / Dreamer students can apply. The IDEA program does not report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Do I need to live in Indiana or apply in person for the IDEA scholarship?

No. You can be a resident of any U.S. state, and documents for eligibility assessment can be submitted remotely. Please refer to our Basic Eligibility worksheet to learn more about available methods for applying and submitting documentation.

Do I need to file the FAFSA?

If you are eligible to file the FAFSA, then yes, this is a requirement. Whether or not you are eligible to file the FAFSA does not have any effect on your eligibility for the IDEA program.

Does having the IDEA scholarship affect my eligibility for any other types of assistance?

No. It will not affect eligibility for other financial aid assistance, and it is also excluded from asset limit tests for government assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps).

Can I apply if I am still in high school?

Yes! However, if you are under the age of 18, you must co-apply with a parent or legal guardian.

What happens if I have started saving, but end up going to a school other than Goshen College?

Your full savings will be returned to you. You will not receive the matched scholarship.

Does the IDEA scholarship have certain income requirements?

Yes. Your household must be below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (see Basic Eligibility worksheet for more information) and receive some or all income in the form of Earned Income. The household is automatically eligible if they received the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Your household must also meet net worth requirements.

What qualifies as Earned Income?

Earned Income is all taxable income received by working for someone who pays you or by owning/running your own business or farm. Go here for more specific information.

What are the net worth requirements and how are they determined?

In order to be net worth eligible, the applicant’s household net worth must be less than $10,000. This is calculated by adding everything that the household owns (houses, cars, accounts, businesses, etc.) minus everything that the household owes.  The primary home and one motor vehicle will be excluded from what the household owns when calculating the household’s net worth.

Why is my credit report required for application? If I have bad credit, can I be declined?

The IDEA program does not look at your credit score. We instead utilize the credit report as a cohesive list of all debts in the household to help us determine the household’s net worth. In most cases, it can be simpler to provide a credit report instead of separate debt statements.

I live with my parents but they do not support me financially. Can I apply on my own without including their income?

For the IDEA program, along with our funders, the applicant must be financially independent. Not only must they provide for themselves and pay for their portion of household-related expenses, they also cannot be claimed as a dependent on anyone else’s federal taxes. If your parents still claim you as a dependent or pay for most/all of the household’s expenses, we will need to include their income and assets/debts to determine your eligibility for the IDEA program.

What if I live on campus and have my own job? Do I still need to include my parents for the application process?

If you are claimed as a dependent by another person and are not fully living on your own, you must apply with your household. We can help you determine this by looking at the most recent federal tax year that your parents filed.

What if my sibling wants to apply as well?

As long as your sibling also meets the eligibility requirements, that works! There can be up to two IDEA scholarships per household/family.

What if my family’s financial situation changes after I’ve been enrolled in the program? Could I lose my scholarship?

The IDEA program certifies your eligibility for the program at the time of application only. A future change in income, whether increase or decrease, will not affect your participation with the IDEA program. It may affect your eligibility with Goshen College or FAFSA, so please inform your academic advisor or Financial Aid counselor of those changes. If the income change affects your ability to meet your savings goal of $500, please contact your IDEA counselor at LaCasa, Inc. as well.

How long do I have to save the $500?

Your IDEA counselor at LaCasa, Inc. will help you determine a savings plan that works with how often you receive income and when you plan to begin attending Goshen College. The minimum amount of time is six months, and the maximum amount of time is eighteen months if you are a junior in high school.

What is the deadline for using the IDEA scholarship?

All scholarship funds must be used within 12 months of completing the savings and additional program requirements.

Can I just deposit the full $500 into my IDEA account without having to save it monthly?

Yes. However, you will not have access to the $4,000 matching portion until you have been in the program for at least six months and completed all other requirements.

How much do I need to save each month? Is there a minimum?

This will also be determined with your IDEA counselor at LaCasa, Inc. You must open the account with a minimum of $25. Monthly deposits are not required to allow for seasonal income restrictions, but are strongly encouraged to help you establish a regular savings habit.

What if I want to save more than $500?

Only the first $500 will be matched for the IDEA program. Any additional savings can be applied to your tuition/related expenses, or can be returned to you upon account closure.

Will I have funding for all four years?

The IDEA scholarship will likely be renewable for up to four years, depending on availability of future funding and assuming that the student remains eligible and can continue to save $500 each year. Continued funding cannot be guaranteed.