Segal AmeriCorps Education Award
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a post-service benefit received by individuals who complete terms of national service in approved AmeriCorps programs, such as AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC, or AmeriCorps State and National. The award is named after Eli Segal, one of the pioneers of the national service movement and the first CEO of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
A person who serves in an AmeriCorps program is known as an AmeriCorps member. AmeriCorps members serving in full-time terms of national service are required to complete the service within 12 months. Upon successful completion of the service, members are eligible to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
The education award may be used to pay educational costs at eligible post-secondary educational institutions (including many technical schools and GI-Bill approved educational programs), as well as to repay qualified student loans. The dollar amount of a full-time education award is tied to the maximum amount of the U.S. Department of Education's Pell Grant. Since the amount of a Pell Grant can change from year to year, the amount of an education award can vary from year to year. Currently, AmeriCorps members may earn up to the value of two full-time education awards and have seven years from the date they earned each award to use it.
Members can divide up an award and use portions of it at different times before it expires, as long as it is for authorized expenditures . A person could, for example, apply a portion of it to existing qualified student loans and save the remainder to pay for authorized college costs a few years down the road.
Since the program’s founding in 1994, almost 1 million AmeriCorps members have earned more than $2.4 billion in education awards.
AmeriCorps VISTA members are uniquely eligible to earn an end-of-year cash stipend in lieu of an education award.
Legislation was passed in 2009 to allow certain senior AmeriCorps members to transfer their education awards to their children or grandchildren under specific conditions. The web page Transferring an Education Award has more information about transferring awards.
The IRS has determined that payments made from an education award are considered to be included in a member's taxable income in the tax year the payment was made to the school or loan holder. Interest payments are also considered taxable income.
The award, which was designed to encourage AmeriCorps alumni to seek postsecondary education opportunities, serves as a powerful recruitment tool for individuals to join AmeriCorps. Studies show that AmeriCorps alumni, with their commitment to service, also make excellent students. A growing number of higher education institutions are “matching” the education award with scholarships and/or academic credits in order to encourage AmeriCorps alumni to enroll in their institutions.
Institutions interested in participating in the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Match Program should contact EdAwardMatch@cns.gov.
Visit our other web pages for additional and more detailed information
Information for Members:
- Amount, Eligibility, and Limitations - rules governing the awards
- Using Your Segal AmeriCorps Education Award - where, when, and how to use the award
- Postponing Student Loan Payments and Getting Interest Paid - how to do it
- Tax Implications - tax reporting
- Frequently Asked Questions - for AmeriCorps members and alumni
- Transferring an Education Award - eligibility, rules, and how to do it
- Extending an Education Award's Use Period - eligibility, rules, and how to do it
Information for Institutions:
- How Schools and Student Loan Holders Process AmeriCorps Payments
- Current List of Institutions that Match the Education Award
- Learn More About Matching the Education Award