College student, several others never matched in matching funds account
A Chattanooga mother is wondering where money for her son's college fund went.
Jacqueline Cothran thought she was investing cash into a special matched savings account, only to find the money she was promised wasn't there.
"I've just invested in something that's not true, and that's not fair to me as a shareholder, and it's not fair to my son," she said.
Cothran has been saving $2,500 for more than a year. It's for her son, Jorden, a freshman basketball player at Sewanee University of the South.
"This is something for him, for his books, just going to school and letting him know I'm proud of him."
She applied for the IDA, Individual Development Account, at Church Koinonia Credit Union in Chattanooga back in 2012. The Hope Chest Program promised to match her funds, and she thought she would have $5,000 in the account by now.
Church Koinonia dissolved in 2013, merging with Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, where Cothran's IDA account was transferred. Last week she learned her funds had never been matched.
"'Your account was opened in 2012, so that money's all gone'," Cothran said she was told by credit union employees. "And I said, 'Excuse me? It can't be all gone.'"
A former Church Koinonia manager, Anne Pierre, told Channel 3 that former customers were told the credit union was applying for a new federal IDA grant to fund accounts for those who applied in 2012. Word that the grant was denied didn't come until after the credit union had closed.
Now Cothran wants to know why customers never knew their funds weren't being matched, as it's forcing her son to find a different want to make ends meet.
"Now he's going to have to work two summer jobs and come home and work for Spring Break," she said. "And I was trying to avoid that."
John Merritt, spokesperson at TVFCU, said the company was recently notified of the grant denial and is in the process of telling the "fewer than 15" account holders the matching funds are no longer available.
Attempts to reach a spokesperson at the National Credit Union Administration were not successful on Monday.
In a statement released from TVFCU Tuesday: "Prior to the merger, TVFCU was informed that the Church Koinonia Federal Credit Union had told their members who wanted to open IDA accounts in 2012 that matching dollars would be available only if the Credit Union received additional grant funding. The previous manager had applied for a Federal Grant that was recently denied."
"Deposits made to these IDA account are still in the members' accounts and they have full access to their deposits," said W. Blake Strickland, TVFCU CEO.