FAIM Frequently Asked Questions

What does FAIM stand for?
Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota.

How do I apply for FAIM?
Locate the Agency Directory tab on this site and contact the FAIM partner agency serving your county/area.  If there isn’t an agency offering FAIM in your area, you may contact the agency serving a neighboring area.  

Ask to be screened for potential enrollment and program readiness.  If potentially eligible you may be placed on their local FAIM wait list.  When FAIM enrollment is opened, the agency will contact wait listed individuals regarding the application process and program readiness.

What documentation do I need for enrollment?
Valid Minnesota driver’s license or Minnesota-issued photo identification card as proof of Minnesota residency.  Your social security or ITIN number.  A c
opy of your current utility bill or signed lease in your name to verify your address.  Proof of household annual income.

What may be used as proof of income? 

  • Current Federal 1040 Tax Filing – PREFERRED method.
  • OR, Previous year’s W2’s from all employment AND documentation of all other income/benefits for the year from ALL adults in the household.  
  • OR, Paystubs from all employment AND documentation of all other income/benefits from ALL adults in the household for the previous 3 full months from date the application was signed. 
    • (Example: FAIM application signed/dated on 2-16-2024 requires income for the full months of November and December 2023 and January 2024).

Can I be enrolled in FAIM if I am not working?
No.  You must have ongoing earned income from wages or self-employment to be eligible for and remain enrolled in FAIM.  Only earned income may be used to make deposits to the FAIM savings account – also known as an Individual Development Account (IDA). 

Unearned income sources (social security benefits, unemployment, worker’s compensation, child support, money from friends/family, foster care stipend, cash assistance, etc.) are included when calculating your household annual gross income but cannot be used for making deposits to FAIM savings.  If you only have unearned income, you are not eligible for FAIM enrollment.

Can I be enrolled in more than one FAIM program at a time?
No, there is only one FAIM program statewide in Minnesota.  You may only have one FAIM account. 

Can I be re-enrolled in FAIM?
An individual is limited to two (2) FAIM enrollments, or the household maximum match – whichever comes first.   Unsuccessful program participation does count as an enrollment.

If you have been enrolled in FAIM, you and your family/household members must wait a minimum of one year from the month your exit was completed before applying for the program.  Example – exit from FAIM was completed in May 2024, must wait until June 2025 before completing another program application.

 Once enrolled, can I deposit more than my monthly goal to my FAIM savings account?
Yes, but deposits to the custodial account must be made from earned income (wages), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or MN Working Family Tax Credit only.  Once funds are deposited into the FAIM account, you cannot make withdrawals without permission from the program.  Accessing the FAIM account without program authorization will result in termination of enrollment.

Only deposits made from earned income (wages) within the time allowed by the program may be matched 3:1. Late deposits and interest earned on savings can’t be matched – no exceptions.  The maximum savings that may be matched per household in a lifetime is $4,000.  If you or anyone in your home has ever been enrolled in FAIM it may affect your eligibility for the program.

What if I need to withdraw my savings for an emergency?
Your deposits to the custodial FAIM savings account are your money, however, you will not have access to the account without authorization from the program.  A one-time emergency withdrawal may be permitted, if it meets the program’s criteria of an emergency (there are only three).
If granted, emergency funds withdrawn from the FAIM account must be replaced within your saving period to qualify for match.  If the withdrawal occurs after the 24-month saving period, your enrollment may be terminated.

If funds are withdrawn from the FAIM account without program authorization for anything other than an emergency (as noted in policies) or your chosen asset, the account will be closed, and enrollment will be terminated.  Your savings/interest will be returned to you, but the match is forfeited back to the program.

Can I save for my child’s post-secondary education?
Post-secondary Education is the only asset track that allows the participant to use funds for their own education or the education of their spouse, child, or tax dependent.  Keep in mind that FAIM has a minimum enrollment period of 6 months + 1-day, AND maximum enrollment is 30 months (2 1/2 years) so the student will need to register for courses within that timeframe.

New in 2024 – FAIM is offering a 529 College Savings asset track for parents of young children (babies through elementary grades), or possibly junior high, who want to save for their child’s future education.  If enrolled in this track, you must be a legal parent of the child and you will be required to open a MNSaves account.

Can FAIM funds be used to pay my student loans?
No, FAIM funds for education may only be used toward tuition and required books/equipment for the current term at an accredited post-secondary institute of higher education within the 48 contiguous United States.  Funds may not be used for exams, licensing, certification courses, some fees, health insurance, study abroad, room/board, or expenses related to graduation.

Can I use the FAIM account to obtain my asset in another state?
No.  The home or vehicle being purchased with FAIM funds must be located within Minnesota.  Similarly, the business start-up or expansion must be done within Minnesota.  FAIM funds for education may be used for courses taken in-person or online at an accredited college in another state, however, the FAIM participant must remain a Minnesota resident.  

Once I am enrolled, can I remain in the program if I move to another state?
No.  You must be a Minnesota resident at time of application and remain so while enrolled, through exit from the program. 

Will enrollment in FAIM affect my eligibility for other programs?
An Individual Development Account (IDA) is a custodial savings account that would be opened in your name in conjunction with FAIM enrollment.  You must check with the other program before applying for FAIM to verify if any of the following would affect the benefits you are receiving or your eligibility for their program.

  • Having a custodial savings account (IDA) in your name that you will make deposits to from your earned income (wages).
  • Receiving a direct payment of funds from FAIM (your savings and eligible 3:1 match)
  • Payment made and sent to a third-party vendor to obtain the FAIM asset chosen at enrollment.
  • Having a FAIM asset in your name/possession upon completion of the program (home, vehicle, college savings account, etc.)

Do I have to pay taxes on FAIM money?
Your deposits to the FAIM (IDA) account must be made from earned income which was already taxed.  The funds used to match FAIM savings comes from grants and is held in a separate escrow account by the program’s fiscal administrator. 

If the matched payout for your chosen asset is made payable to a third-party vendor the FAIM participant is not responsible to claim the match as income or be taxed on those dollars.

If a matched payout for an Emergency Savings asset track is not paid to a third-party vendor, the match may be considered income which could impact the FAIM participant’s eligibility for and/or benefits received from other programs (MFIP, SSI, etc.) and may also have tax implications.  BEFORE considering enrollment in this track – check with your caseworker to determine how it may affect your benefits.

If a matched payout for the 529 College Savings asset track is sent to MNSaves and is deposited into the account the FAIM participant opened, it may affect their eligibility for and/or benefits received from other programs (MFIP, SSI, etc.) and may also have tax implications.  BEFORE considering enrollment in this track – check with your caseworker to determine how it may affect your benefits.