Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed has approved revised policies and guidelines authorizing the Treasury Division of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to improve the per capita loan assistance program for tribal members. Under the Tribal Member Loan Assistance Program, eligible members of the tribe may apply for monthly loan assistance by voluntarily assigning a portion of their regular per capita distributions. All eligible members can request assistance up to $500 per month under the program.
“I have asked the Treasury Division to revise the loan assistance program to be more efficient,” said Chief Sneed. “The initial rollout had some flaws, and I am happy with the progress that is being made to build a better program. What is most important is that we do not create a system of dependency for our tribal members, however, we want programs available to assist tribal members in times of need.”
Under the revised guidelines, eligible tribal members may apply for loan assistance during established deadlines that are published by the Treasury Division. Some of the most important guidelines and policies are as follows:
- Eligible tribal members include everyone who is 18 years of age or older, and who have received at least one biannual per capita distribution.
- Tribal members owing a debt to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians or the Qualla Housing Authority, other than portfolio loans or down payment assistance, will not be eligible until all debts are paid in full.
- Once application is made and accepted for loan assistance will be recurring for the remainder of that cycle. Only one application per eligible tribal member will be accepted per cycle. A tribal member may stop the recurring assistance at any point during the cycle, however, once stopped the loan assistance cannot be restarted within the same cycle.
- Eligible tribal members may receive up to $500 per month in loan assistance. The amount of monthly assistance is dependent upon the historical garnishment amounts, if any, for eligible tribal members.
- There are two loan assistance cycles: 1) October – March and 2) April – September
Tribal members must re-apply for each cycle. Applications are available at the Office of Budget & Finance.
The Treasury Division Office of Budget & Finance is responsible for the management and execution of the Tribal Member Assistance Loan Program. Cory Blankenship, Secretary of Treasury, commented, “What we found is that there are many tribal members who benefit directly from this program. Our goal is to continue to help, but also to lessen the administrative burden and opportunity for error.”
Additionally, the funding structure of the program has changed to be treated as all other garnishments and voluntary assignments. “Rather than withholding loan assistance from the overall per capita distribution each month, we send the full amount of monthly per capita distribution to the investment account,” said Blankenship. “We have been able to significantly improve our investment return in the per capita account, and because we are now sending the full amount we can optimize our returns. What that means in short is additional investment return on per capita, which benefits all enrolled members.”
Loan application deadlines and check release dates for the upcoming cycle are as follows (date of loan applications being accepted; check release date):
- Oct. 23-27; Friday, Nov. 10
- No applications accepted in November
- Dec. 11-15; Friday, Jan. 12, 2018
- Jan. 22-26; Friday, Feb. 9, 2018
- Feb. 19-23; March 9, 2018
- March 26-30; Friday, April 13, 2018
– EBCI Public Relations