How Institutions Process Education Award Payments
Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards
An AmeriCorps member who successfully completes a term of national service or an individual who is the recipient of a transferred education award, will receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for his/her use during a specified period of time. The dollar amount of the award can vary based upon the length and type of the individual’s service term.
An education award can be used to repay qualified student loans and to pay for current educational expenses at eligible educational institutions. It can be split up and used for both purposes. The total amount of the award can be used at one time or portions can be used until the award is depleted or expires.
In addition to having payments made from their education award accounts, individuals who earned the education award may be eligible to have paid all or a portion of the interest that accrued on their qualified student loans that were placed in forbearance while they were serving. After they successfully complete their terms of service, the Trust will pay all or a portion of the interest that accrued on their qualified student loans. These interest payments are a benefit in addition to the education awards and are not subtracted from their education award balances.
By law, payments are made directly to the educational or lending institution, not to the individual.
Additionally, payments for educational expenses must be made in two installments, one at the beginning of the enrollment period upon which the payment is based and the second at the midpoint of the enrollment period.
For a more detailed description of where the awards can be used and for what purposes, including the definition of “eligible” schools and “qualified” student loans, go to this web page: Using Your Education Award
Processing Payments and Forbearances Online – My AmeriCorps
We strongly encourage eligible individuals, educational and lending institutions to use our secure online system, My AmeriCorps, to create, certify and track AmeriCorps payments. An individual’s payment request can be processed faster, more easily, more securely, and with fewer chances for error by submitting his/her request electronically. An electronic record of each payment is available to both the member and the institution.
In order for an institution to process a payment through My AmeriCorps, the institution must complete a simple registration process. There is no cost to register. The registration process includes establishing secure login measures and designating individuals at the institution who are authorized to certify AmeriCorps payments.
Loan holders can also use My AmeriCorps to process a borrower’s request for forbearance on the repayment of qualified student loans during the individual’s service period.
Benefits of Using My AmeriCorps
- Institutions will receive payments faster. My AmeriCorps allows for quicker turn-around of payments through a reduction of processing time.
- Administrative burden will decrease. Certain information on the forms will be auto-populated by the system. The administrative burden will be reduced because the institution will no longer be responsible for completing paper payment request forms.
- There will be electronic records. The system creates and provides electronic records of transactions.
- No need to mail forms. The system eliminates the time and cost of mailing documents and the possibility of forms being lost or delayed in the mail.
- There is easier access to information and updates. Most questions can be answered by visiting our online site.
The Payment Process
There are 3 basic steps to the My AmeriCorps payment process.
1) The eligible individual. Registered individuals log into their My AmeriCorps accounts and create payment requests by entering required information. This information is then submitted electronically to the institution, if registered.
2) The institution. The certifying official at the institution can either receive email notifications that payment requests are pending or periodically log into the institution’s My AmeriCorps account to view the status of pending requests.
The certifying official at the institution can complete a request by providing required information related to the request and certifying that the payment meets the criteria—e.g., the individual is considered a student or has a qualified student loan. The institution enters the loan payoff amount (for loans) or the amount for which the person is eligible (for current educational expenses).
- The Eligible Amount that an institution reports for current educational expenses must be based on verifiable and auditable documentation of these costs. Institutions should not simply enter the same amount that the student requested. See the section below, Eligible Amount for Current Educatinal Expenses, for an explanation of how to determine the amount the student is eligible to use for educational expenses.
- For both student loans and current educational expenses, when the amount the person requested is different than the eligible amount the institution determines, the lesser of the two amounts will be paid.
The institution submits the approved (or disapproved) requests electronically to the National Service Trust for final processing. Disapproved requests require an explanation. If the eligible amount is the same as the amount requested by the student, the Trust needs an invoice verifying the amount. For payments processed online, the document can be faxed to the Trust at (202) 606-3484, which is a secure fax line. For payments processed using a paper form, a copy of the invoice can be included with the Voucher and Payment Request Form when it is sent to the Trust.
3) The National Service Trust. The Trust reviews all manual voucher submissions from the institution. Payments that are certified by an institution prior to noon on Thursdays are generally sent out from the U.S. Treasury on Fridays. Disbursement of a payment will depend upon the enrollment dates that were entered. The payment schedule may be adjusted somewhat around holidays and the end of the year.
Payments are made either through paper checks or through electronic funds transfers (EFTs). The EFT process deposits the payment directly into an institution’s bank account. This method is faster and more secure than sending paper checks through the mail.
Registering to Use My AmeriCorps
Eligible schools and holders of qualified student loans can register to use My AmeriCorps by following these easy steps.
Access the system by clicking on this link: https://my.americorps.gov/. This is the same web site you will use to log into your account once it is set up.
- In the login box, click “Register to create a new Institution account”
- On the registration page, enter the required information about your institution, including your contact information. If your institution wants to receive payments electronically, provide the EFT payment information. (You will also need to complete a one-page U.S. Treasury form later in the process).
- Click “submit” and an email will be sent to you to acknowledge your registration.
- A Trust Officer from the National Service Trust will approve your application and send you a second email with a link to access the system. You will be offered an opportunity to create a username and a password. For security reasons you must do this within 72 hours of receiving the email or you will have to contact the Trust to have your account re-set. Create a username and password and click on “submit”.
- From then on, every time you need to process a request, you can enter your Username and Password on the My AmeriCorps registration/login screen. The system will bring up your personalized Homepage. You can process your pending requests for payments and, if applicable, requests for forbearance. As an Administrator you can also assign roles and processing authority to other employees, as deemed appropriate.
Eligible Amount for Current Educational Expenses
You should not automatically assume that the amount the individual requested is the amount for which he or she is eligible
When determining the portion of the education award the student is eligible to use to pay for current educational expenses:
- For students enrolled in Title IV degree and certificate programs, the Cost of Attendance (COA) and other educational expenses (in accordance with the Higher Education Act) minus the student’s estimated financial assistance under part A of title IV of the Act. Note, veterans benefits may not be included in COA calculations for AmeriCorps payments.
- For students enrolled in non-degree courses or programs at a Title IV school (such as continuing education courses or workshops offered by Title IV schools), educational expenses as determined by the school’s administrative office offering the course or program. This normally includes tuition, fees, books and supplies.
- For students enrolled in courses or training programs authorized under the Montgomery and Post 9/11 G.I. Bills, educational expenses as determined by the program’s VA-approved Certifying Official.
The total of all student aid, including the education award, cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance (COA) or the comparable amount allowed for non-degree programs.
Electronic Funds Transfer
Institutions that register to use My AmeriCorps are asked to sign up to receive their payments electronically as part of the registration process. Schools and loan holders can also sign up for electronic payments outside the registration process, too.
You can download a copy of the U.S. Treasury form, SF 3881, to receive payments electronically. This ACH Vendor/Miscellaneous Payment Enrollment Form can be downloaded by clicking here <SF3881>. Complete the form and send it to the Trust following the instructions that are provided.
You can download and submit this form if either of these situations applies:
- your institution is already registered to use My AmeriCorps but has never signed up for EFTs or
- your institution wants to process payment requests using paper forms (i.e., not use the online system, My AmeriCorps) but wants to receive the payments electronically.
DOs and DON'Ts
DO return overpayments to the Corporation so the individual’s account can be properly credited.
DO provide correct enrollment dates that support the semester/term for which the individual has requested the funds and upon which the payment amount is based.
DO provide an invoice documenting the individual’s eligible costs to prevent an overpayment from being made.
When you process a request for a payment, if the eligible amount is the same as the amount the student requested, you should provide an invoice verifying the eligible amount. You can fax this, along with a copy of the payment request, to our secure fax line at: (202) 606-3484.
DON'T certify the same amount the member requested without having supporting documentation to confirm the cost.
DON'T make up enrollment dates for a term/semester so the money can be disbursed faster.
DON'T refund to the member any overpayment.
DON'T certify any costs that do not follow the guidelines set forth by the Department of Education
DON'T complete both the loan and the education expense sections if you are processing a request from a paper Voucher and Payment Request Form.
Visit this page for answers to common questions institutions have asked about processing payuments.
Visit these pages for additional information.
- Using Your Education Award - where and how people can use their awards
- Amount, Eligibility, and Limitations - rules governing the awards
- Postponing Student Loan Payments and Getting Interest Paid – the processes for obtaining forbearance on qualified student loans and paying the interest that accrued during service