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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 33 : Human Services

Chapter 011 : REACH UP

Subchapter 003 : SEPARATE STATE PROGRAMS

(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 1123)
  • § 1123. Vermont Matched Savings Program

    (a) As used in this section:

    (1) "Account" means a savings account that is held in an insured financial institution that is maintained by the saver as part of an approved account program and an approved savings plan.

    (2) "Agency" means the Agency of Human Services.

    (3) "Approved account program" means a program approved by the Agency and administered by a service provider.

    (4) "Approved savings plan" means a plan, approved by the service provider and agreed to by the saver, that defines savings goals, program requirements, and anticipated uses of the savings and matching funds. The plan shall be a contract between the saver and the service provider. The plan shall limit the maximum amount of savings that is the basis for receipt of matching funds to no more than $500.00 per saver per calendar year and $1,000.00 per family per calendar year, and to no more than $2,000.00 per lifetime of the saver and $4,000.00 per lifetime of members of a family.

    (5) "Education" means a postsecondary program of instruction approved by the service provider and provided by a college, university, community college, area vocational technical school, professional institution, or specialized college or school legally authorized to grant degrees. The term also means any job training or related educational program approved by the service provider.

    (6) "Eligible uses" means education, training that leads to employment, the purchase or improvement of a home, the purchase or repair of a vehicle necessary to participate in an employment-related activity, or participation in or development of an entrepreneurial activity.

    (7) "Entrepreneurial activity" means the purchase of or investment in a for-profit venture in which the saver will be a principal.

    (8) "Financial institution" means any insured federal or State chartered bank, bank and trust company, savings bank, savings and loan association, trust company, or credit union, approved by the service provider for the establishment of an individual development savings account.

    (9) "Fund" means the Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund established by this section.

    (10) "Minimum savings amount" means the minimum amount of the saver's earnings established in the approved savings plan that the saver must deposit in order to be eligible for matching funds.

    (11) "Program" means the Vermont Matched Savings Program established by this section.

    (12) "Public assistance" means financial assistance provided by the Reach Up program or a separate State program established under the authority of section 1121 of this title.

    (13) "Saver" means an individual who is 18 years of age or older, or who is under 18 years of age if the account is held in the name of a parent or caretaker of the saver, or a family group:

    (A) who resides in this State;

    (B) who has applied for and been enrolled in the individual development savings program;

    (C) whose household income at the time of application is within the applicable financial eligible standards:

    (i) to receive public assistance;

    (ii) to claim the federal earned income credit, without regard to any age limitation; or

    (iii) to participate in a federal savings program administered pursuant to this section; and

    (D) whose net worth as of the calendar year preceding the determination of eligibility does not exceed $10,000.00, excluding the primary dwelling unit, one motor vehicle owned by members of the saver's family in a one-parent family or two motor vehicles owned by members of the saver's family in a two-parent family, and the tools of saver's trade that do not exceed $10,000.00 in value and that are necessary to continue or seek employment.

    (14) "Service provider" means a nonprofit organization approved by the Agency that encourages and assists local community-based human service development, and that is an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States which is exempt from taxation under Section 501(a) of such Code.

    (b) The Agency shall establish by rule standards and procedures to implement and administer the Vermont Matched Savings Program. The Program may include a program with eligibility criteria that satisfy federal funding requirements or the requirements of other funding sources that are more restrictive than those established in subsection (a) of this section, and a program funded by State appropriations and other revenue. Such standards and procedures shall include the following:

    (1) An applicant shall apply to a service provider for a determination of eligibility for enrollment in the Program. The service provider shall develop an approved savings plan with each saver who has been determined eligible and enrolled in the Program. The approved savings plan shall specify a minimum savings amount to be saved and the frequency of deposits to be made by the saver to the savings account during the duration of the plan. The application and plan shall be prepared on forms provided and approved by the service provider.

    (2) The enrolled saver shall complete a financial management training program approved by the Agency and provided by or through the service provider.

    (3) An enrolled saver shall open an account in a financial institution that has been approved by the service provider as a depository for the saver's contributions. The saver and the service provider shall jointly own the account, including interest earned, jointly, with the saver as primary owner.

    (4) An enrolled saver with an approved plan and account monitored by a service provider shall comply with the requirements of the plan for at least one year, but no more than five years, in order to be eligible for matching fund grants.

    (5) In order to obtain matching funds, the saver shall present evidence satisfactory to the service provider that the amount to be withdrawn will be expended only for an eligible use. A withdrawal from an account for an eligible use shall be made payable to the person who provides the eligible use. The Agency, or the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 2878a, shall pay matching funds to the person that provides the eligible use. Matching funds shall not be paid to the saver.

    (6) The service provider may terminate an approved savings plan for a saver who fails to meet the savings goals set out in the approved plan or who withdraws from the Program, in accordance with standards and procedures established by rule by the Agency. Any funds contributed by the saver shall revert to the sole ownership of the saver, to be used by the saver for any purpose. Funds in accounts created pursuant to a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan shall be subject to the provisions of the Plan's participation agreement.

    (7) The Agency shall monitor Program participation, and shall limit additional Program participation when the funds appropriated to carry out the purposes of this section are not sufficient to support additional approved savings plans.

    (8) The Agency shall establish by rule any other standards and procedures necessary or desirable to implement the Vermont Matched Savings Program, including minimum requirements for approval of savings plans, criteria for training and counseling, reporting requirements for participating financial institutions, and matching fund allocation standards.

    (c)(1) The Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund is established in the State Treasury and shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5, except that interest earned on the Fund shall be retained in the Fund. Into the Fund shall be deposited proceeds from grants, donations, contributions, appropriations, and other revenue authorized by law. The Fund shall be used only for the purpose of providing matching funds for the Vermont Matched Savings Program as established in this section, and to provide grants to service providers for administrative expenses of administering the Program.

    (2) The Agency may make grants from the Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund to service providers to provide the match for approved savings plans with enrolled savers. The amount and number of grants shall be calculated quarterly by the Agency based on the number of savers and the amounts included in their approved plans administered by each service provider so that payment of the maximum match is ensured for all savers for the period for the approved savings plans without exceeding the balance in the Fund. The Agency may award grants from the Fund to service providers to cover their expenses of training and counseling savers and to implement and administer the Vermont Matched Savings Program. The Agency may approve the use of interest earnings on grant funds as a portion of approved administrative costs.

    (3) The Agency and service providers, separately or cooperatively, may solicit grants and private contributions for the Vermont Matched Savings Grant Special Fund.

    (d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of this section to the contrary:

    (1) a saver may open an account under this section as a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan Account under 16 V.S.A. chapter 87, subchapter 7;

    (2) the duration of the saver's ownership of a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan Account shall not be subject to any limitation of time, except as provided in 16 V.S.A. chapter 87, subchapter 7; and

    (3) the saver's ownership of a Vermont Higher Education Savings Plan Account shall not be included in the saver's income or resources for purposes of the saver's eligibility for TANF or SSI funds or services. (Added 1999, No. 147 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. July 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 11, § 59, eff. April 25, 2001; 2018, No. 11 (Sp. Sess.), § E.325.1; 2019, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § E.323.1, eff. Oct. 2, 2020.)