If you need extra money every month, a successful guaranteed income application could be your lifeline. You usually only have one shot to apply for these programs, so it’s critically important that you get it right the first time.
In this article, we’re going to review what these programs are and what you need to do to be successful with your guaranteed income application.
What is a Guaranteed Income Program?
A Guaranteed Income Program is a program that provides cash benefits for an extended period of time, usually one or two years. These programs aim to help low income people afford their basic needs, like shelter, food and health care.
During the payment period, the program administrators study the way the money is spent by regularly checking in with the people who receive it. The goal is to develop a better understanding of how a guaranteed income can affect someone’s life as well as the local economy.
A Guaranteed Income Program is different than a Universal Basic Income (UBI) because it is more limited in scope. UBI programs provide everyone, regardless of their income level or socioeconomic status, with a set amount of money every month. Guaranteed Income Programs are more limited, because they do not serve everyone. In fact, they often do not serve everyone who is eligible. Instead, they provide cash benefits to a set number of people who are selected from the pool of eligible applications.
Since the programs are run locally, they vary widely. Some programs only serve pregnant women, others only serve former foster youth, and some are open to anyone who meets specific income criteria. The rules for your local Guaranteed Income Program will depend on the goals set by the agency that is administering the program.
How do you apply for Guaranteed Income Programs?
Every guaranteed income application is a little different but the principles are the same. You will be asked questions that will be used to determine if you are eligible. The organization offering the program will ask you to upload documentation proving that your answers are true and accurate. It’s important to make sure you are as prepared as possible before beginning the application so it doesn’t time out and you don’t lose the opportunity to apply.
Some applications will also require you to submit an essay demonstrating your need. However, most guaranteed income applications will only ask you for basic documentation to demonstrate your eligibility.
For example, the Rise Up Cambridge website allows you to complete the application online but you will need to upload documents that prove your identity, residency, income, and that you have a child under age 21 living in your household.
Step 1: Gather Your Documentation
Every legitimate guaranteed income application that I have found asks you to prove your identity, address and income. Depending on the requirements of the program, you may be required to provide documentation that verifies your household size or that you meet other requirements as well.
When you submit your guaranteed income application, you should be prepared to provide at least one of the following:
- State-Issued Photo ID
- US Passport
- Military ID
- Green Card
- Certification of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Permanent Resident Card
- Learner’s Permit
Proof of Address
Since each guaranteed income program only serves a limited geographic area, you will also be expected to prove that you live or reside within those boundaries. The following documents are generally considered acceptable proof of address:
- Valid government-issued photo ID with a current address
- Utility bills (including internet, cable or home phone service)
- Mortgage documents or rent lease agreement
- Certified school records that show your child is enrolled in a local school district
- Benefits award letter
- Letter from a homeless shelter
- Letter from a community service provider
- Tax returns from the most recent year
- Property tax bill
Proof of Income
Guaranteed income programs aim to alleviate financial challenges so they usually expect you to meet certain income requirements. Although the income limits will vary depending on the program that you are applying for, you should always be prepared to provide paperwork that shows how much money your household brings in every month.
Some documentation that can be used as proof of income includes:
- Enrollment or eligibility confirmation letters for SNAP, TANF, WIC or another means-tested program
- Wage documents
- Unemployment award letter
- Tax returns
- Disability benefit award letters
- Bank statements
If you do not have an income, you will need to be prepared to explain how you pay for your housing and basic expenses. You may need to gather letters from anyone who is providing you with financial support in order to prove your situation.
Each guaranteed income application has different requirements. Sometimes, they require you to show that you have a child under a certain age. Other times, they will require you to be a single parent, college student, or member of a certain socioeconomic or demographics group.
Because those requirements vary, it is difficult to tell you what information you will need. However, it is always wise to have identifying documents for every member of your household available to you. These documents may include birth certificates, school enrollment forms, medical records, tax transcripts and more.
Step 2: Review the Requirements in Depth
In order to complete a guaranteed income application, you will need to contact the organization offering the program. They usually have a website you can visit that will explain the unique requirements of their program.
Before opening the application, review the information on the program’s website. Pay special attention to the eligibility criteria and the FAQ sections of their website because these will answer many of your questions.
You will also want to note how winners are selected. Some guaranteed income programs select a certain number of participants at random from the pool of eligible candidates. Others accept only the first people who apply. Only rarely will a program help everyone who is eligible.
The better you understand the guaranteed income application requirements, the better chance you’ll have of succeeding with yours. After all, you need to make sure that you can fill that paperwork out accurately, quickly and completely in order to be successful.
Step 3: Provide Accurate and Complete Information
It is important to be prepared before submitting your guaranteed income application. These programs are always intensely competitive and you generally only have one chance to prove your eligibility. If you make mistakes on your application, your entry may be discarded and you could lose your chance to win.
Make sure that the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date. Always be honest and truthful in your responses. If you aren’t, it could cause you serious problems later on.
Sometimes it helps to have another member of your household check over the application before you submit it. A fresh set of eyes can help you make sure that you didn’t miss any questions, forget to attach the documentation, or skip any other steps that could cause your application to be discarded.
Step 4: Write a Compelling Personal Statement
It is not uncommon for the guaranteed income application to include a section where you can enter a personal statement or answer an essay-type question. Sometimes, the questions will include prompts like “What will you do with the money?” or “How do you think this program will help you?”
It is important to answer those questions accurately and honestly. It’s also important to answer them well in order to make sure that your entry receives the attention it deserves.
Ultimately, being eligible for a guaranteed income program isn’t enough; you also need to be able to articulately explain why you need this help and how you will use it.
As you prepare your personal statement, it’s important to remember these things:
- Be genuine and authentic.
- Start with a strong opening statement that will get their attention in a captivating way.
- Tell your story, highlighting your challenges and how the money from this program can help you overcome them. Sometimes, it helps to share how you have overcome a difficult challenge in the past or to focus on what gives you hope for the future.
- Highlight any relevant accomplishments that you hope to achieve with the use of these funds. Will you get a certification or pursue some sort of education or training? Will you be able to buy a uniform so your child can participate in sports or extracurriculars? Will you be able to finally maintain stable housing? Showing a clear vision for the future can strengthen your guaranteed income application.
- Use specific examples and details to make it vivid, compelling and personal.
Before you submit your personal statement, make sure you read over it and edit it. Check for grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes. Fix any run-on sentences and make sure that you are using short paragraphs so it’s easier to read. Ask friends or family members for help if you need it.
Step 5: Submit Your Application Quickly
It’s important to never procrastinate your application. Do it right away and submit it as soon as you possibly can.
There is always a competitive response to guaranteed income programs because a ton of people apply for them. If a program gets overwhelmed with applications, they may close the entry period early and you could lose your chance.
Make sure that you pay close attention to when the application period starts and ends. You do not want to risk missing the application period because you had an emergency or your internet connection was faulty. Applying right away can help you avoid many unexpected disasters or delays.
What happens after you apply?
It can take a while for the program administrators to sift through all the applications and make decisions. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything for a few weeks after you complete your application.
Sometimes, the organization will list a point of contact for the program. If they do, you can contact them to check on the status of your guaranteed income application.
If you reach out, remember to maintain a kind, respectful tone with anyone you speak with. If you are hostile or aggressive with the person you speak with, they may remove your application from consideration and you could lose your chance.
If you want to submit a winning guaranteed income application, you need to be as prepared as possible before the applications open. Gather your documentation and prepare your personal statement as soon as possible. Make sure you submit your application on time. This article includes best practices on how you can prepare a winning application.