Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd became eligible Tuesday for federal matching money to help finance a campaign that is banking on a surprise finish in Iowa.

The Federal Election Commission announced that Dodd had met the minimum requirement to receive public funds from the Presidential Public Funding Program, which is financed by taxpayers who set aside $3 for the fund in their tax returns.

Dodd is seeking to emerge as an alternative to better-financed rivals like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. As of Sept. 30, when candidates filed their latest financial reports, Dodd had total receipts of $13.6 million. He raised $1.5 million in the third quarter, covering July-September.

The presidential fund matches the first $250 of each individual primary contribution to an eligible candidate. To accept the money, candidates must agree to an overall spending limit of about $50 million and must meet spending thresholds in individuals states as well. The limits do not include money spent on staff, fundraising and several other costs that could significantly increase the base limit.

Dodd joins Edwards as the only two Democrats to be declared eligible for matching funds so far. Obama and Clinton do not plan to accept public money, freeing them from the spending limits. Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Tom Tancredo have also been declared eligible for public funds. McCain said Monday he had not yet decided whether to participate in the program.