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About CNCS

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and its programs and initiatives.
 

Segal AmeriCorps Education Award

For what purposes can an education award be used?

The education award can be used in one or both of the following ways:

  • To repay qualified student loans.
  • To pay all or part of the current education expenses to attend eligible institutions of higher education (including certain vocational schools) and educational programs approved under the G.I. Bills.

Which schools are considered to be "eligible" educational institutions?

Eligible institutions are institutions of higher education (including graduate and professional programs), as well as vocational schools, that currently participate in the Department of Education‘s Title IV student aid programs. 

An institution is considered to be a “Title IV school” if it has a Title IV Program Participation Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education making its students eligible for at least one of the federally-backed types of financial assistance (such as Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans, National Direct Loans, and Federal Consolidated Loans).

Legislation enacted in 2009 expanded the use of the award to allow some AmeriCorps members to enroll in courses, programs of education, apprenticeships, and on job training programs that have been approved under the Montgomery and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bills. These are referred to as “G.I. Bill approved programs.”  For more detailed information, see the sections on the web page Using Your Segal AmeriCorps Education Award discussing GI-Bill programs.

What educational expenses are considered to be "current" educational expenses?

Education expenses are considered “current” if they are incurred on or after the date the member began his or her term of AmeriCorps service.

Eligible educational expenses are based on:

  • The Cost of Attendance (COA) for a degree or certificate-granting program at a Title IV school.
  • Educational expenses for non-degree courses, such as continuing education courses offered by Title IV schools.
  • Educational expenses for enrollment in G.I. Bill approved courses or programs.

For Title IV schools the Financial Aid Office can determine a student’s COA based upon standard U.S. Department of Education guidance. The COA may include tuition, books and supplies, transportation, room and board, and other expenses.

For non-degree educational courses at Title IV schools, the appropriate administrative office that oversees the course—for example an administrative office for a school's Continuing Education program—can determine the expenses necessary for the course. Normally it includes tuition, books, and supplies.

For G.I. Bill approved courses/programs, eligible individuals should contact the school’s approved Certifying Official for VA courses who will determine the expenses based upon criteria developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Which loans are considered to be "qualified" student loans?

By law, a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award can be used to repay most postsecondary student loans that are backed by the federal government. This includes both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans.  Also, loans that are made by state agencies, including state colleges and universities are considered qualified.

Examples of eligible loans include: Stafford Loans, William D. Ford Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, Federal Consolidated Loans, Supplemental Loans for Students, Nursing Student Loans, Primary Care Loans, Health Education Assistance Loans, and loans issued to AmeriCorps members by state agencies, including state institutions of higher education. 

What is the period of time within which the Segal-AmeriCorps Education Award can be used?

A member must use the education award within 7 years of  his or her service completion date. A Summer of Service member or recipient of a transferred award can use it for up to ten years from the original award earner’s service completion date.

In certain circumstances, the use period may be extended if the member was unavoidably prevented from using the award. To be considered for an extension, a member must apply for an extension before the end of the use period.  Learn more on the Segal AmeriCorps Ed Award page about the rules and process for requesting an extension. 

Is there a limit on the number of education awards that a person can receive?

While there is not a limit on the number of education awards that a person can receive, by law, there is a limit on the total value of education awards he or she can receive. An individual may not receive more than the aggregate (total) value of  two ("2.") full-time awards.  There are limits on the numbers of terms in which a person can serve in each of the three AmeriCorps programs.

The “value” of an education award is distinct from the dollar “amount” of an award.  The value of an education award refers to the service opportunity offered by a particular term of service, such as full-time, half-time, and summer terms of service.  While the dollar amount of an education award for a particular term of service may change, the value of the award for that term is constant.  For example, the value of a full-time award is always “1.0”, the value of a half-time term is always “.5”, and the value of a quarter-time term is always ".25".

See the web page Amount, Eligibility, and Limitations of Education Awards for further discussion about the value of education awards.  This page also lists the limits on the number of terms that can be served in each of the three AmeriCorps programs. 

Is the education award taxable?

Yes. The education award is considered taxable income in the year it is used. So are payments made for interest that accrued on qualified loans during the service person. For example, if, in 2017, a person uses all or part of an education award for college or uses the award to repay qualified student loans or uses the award for both purposes, the total paid from the education award in 2017 must be included as taxable income for that year. Also, any amount paid in 2017 for interest that accrued while the person was serving is also considered taxable income. CNCS does not withhold any taxes from the education award.

While all education award and accrued interest payments are considered taxable income, if your combined payments made during a calendar year total $600 or more, CNCS will send you an IRS Form 1099 that will provide the total amount to include when you file taxes. You can also find all of your yearly payments (as well as W-2 information) online in your My AmeriCorps account.

You can find more information regarding taxes on the web page Tax Implications for the Education Award

What is the period of time within which the education award can be used?

A member may use the education award for up to seven years after his or her last day of service. For a transferred award, the recipient of the transferred award can use it for up to ten years from the original award earner's service completion date.  

In certain circumstances, the use period may be extended if the member was unavoidably prevented from using the award.  To be considered for an extension, a member must apply, in writing, for an extension before the end of the seven year period.  You can read more detailed information about Extensions on the Using Your Ed Award page.

What is the amount of an education award?

The maximum amount of a full-time education award is equivalent to the maximum amount of the Pell Grant for the year for which the national service position was approved.  To determine the amount of each AmeriCorps education award, CNCS will use the amount of the Pell Grant as of the first day of the fiscal year (October 1st) in which the position is approved.

"Approval" of national service positions is managed differently for VISTA and NCCC members than for AmeriCorps State and National members.  To confirm the award amount for which you are eligible, contact your program or project sponsor.

Will the amount of the award change?

Because the amount of a full-time Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is based on the amount of the Pell grant and the Pell grant may change each year, the amount of the education award may also change for a particular year. However, once an award is earned the amount does not change to reflect future changes in the updated amount of the Pell Grant. Awards earned in prior years will not increase in value.

Why was only half of the payment I requested sent to my school? 

By law, education award payments for current educational expenses must be made in 2 or more installments, none of which exceeds 50% of the amount of the payment.  The interval between installments may not be less than one half of the period of enrollment, except as necessary to permit the second installment to be paid at the beginning of the semester, quarter, or similar period of enrollment.

CNCS makes two installments, one at the beginning of the enrollment period upon which the amount is based, and the second at the middle of that enrollment period.  When the school approves the payment request, it indicates both the beginning date of the enrollment period and the midpoint date.  If the payment request is received after the midpoint date, the payment for the entire enrollment period is sent.

Payments are generally sent out by the U.S. Treasury every Friday. Exceptions are around holidays and the end of the year.

What is My AmeriCorps?

My AmeriCorps is a secure online system for accessing and managing your Segal-AmeriCorps Education Award.  It's a one-stop-shop for all AmeriCorps members and alumni, providing information, self-service capabilities, and access to the online payment system.  You can check your award balances and past payments, update your address, access important financial information, request forbearance and, most importantly, request payments to your educational institution and loan holders and monitor their status.  All, quickly, easily, and securely!  There are no forms to mail in.  My AmeriCorps also provides you with an electronic historical record of awards earned and payments made.

Payments requested by paper vouchers can take much longer to process and they are less secure. CNCS cannot guarantee the prompt processing of payments when paper forms are used. 

It is fast and easy to access your account in My AmeriCorps. To register in My AmeriCorps or to log into your My AmeriCorps account, go to https://my.americorps.gov/mp/logindo

Can I transfer my award to another person?

Education awards can be transferred in limited situations. There are very specific rules that apply to transferred awards. To transfer an award: 

The transferring individual (the person who earned the award) must:

  • have been at least 55 years of age before beginning the term of service;
  • have begun the term on or after October 1, 2009;
  • transfer the award before its expiration date; and
  • have earned the award by serving in an AmeriCorps State or National Program.

The recipient of a transferred award must:

  • be the child (which includes step-child), grandchild (which includes step-grandchild), or foster child of the transferring individual;
  • be a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the US;
  • have been designated as the recipient by a qualified award-earner; and
  • complete the required process for accepting the award.

See the web page Transferring Your Education Award for additional information on the rules and process for transferring awards. 

Can an eligible individual transfer an education award using the My AmeriCorps portal?

Eligible members are able to transfer their education awards using the My AmeriCorps portal. From a member’s home page, click on the “Create Transfer Request” option and follow the instructions. Occasionally, additional information is required and the requesting member will be contacted by a National Service Trust staff member.

Who can I contact for specific questions about the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award?

You can get additional information, some more detailed and complex than these questions and answers, by going to the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award and Education Award FAQs web pages. 

You can also contact the National Service Hotline at 1-800-942-2677.  The Hotline is staffed by customer service representatives from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. EST, Monday through Thursday.  During high volume months -- January, May, June, July, August, and September -- the Hotline will be staffed on Fridays. 

And you can make changes of address yourself through the My AmeriCorps portal, or by visiting the National Service Hotline.

 

Serve in Your Community

Do you administer scholarship programs?

Through AmeriCorps, upon successful completion of service individuals can earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which can be used to pay for college or repay eligible student loans.  Learn more about the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award


Build Your Capacity

I’m a grantee and am looking for national and community service photos to use in our brochures. Where can I find them?

CNCS maintains an online photo gallery for all its programs. High-resolution digital files of the photos can be downloaded directly from the site.

How do I find national and community service programs in my state?

Visit our State Profiles section and click on your state. There is a listing of grantees under each program. They are listed by city and organization name. To find the appropriate CNCS contact for your state, download the PDF labeled “National Service Contacts in My State.”

I’m interested in promoting your programs to my organization’s constituents. Where can I order brochures or other promotional materials?

Visit the National Service Publications website to order publications and promotional materials. 

I'm a faith-based organization.  Am I eligible to apply for a CNCS grant?

The Corporation for National and Community Service's Faith-based and Community Initiatives (FBCI) is an integral part of our efforts to provide opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to give back to their communities. FCBI helps connect faith-based and other community groups to CNCS, ensuring that these groups have the capacity, tools, and volunteer power they need to help America’s communities flourish. Learn more about FBCI.

Where do I find out about CNCS funding opportunities?

Opportunities vary by program. Learn more about what’s available, eligibility, responsibilities, and new grant opportunities.

Help, I'm having trouble using eGrants.  Who can I contact for help?

Listed below are points of contact available to you for answering your questions, obtaining information or technical assistance involving eGrants.

For technical issues related to eGrants, please visit the National Service Hotline or call 1-800-942-2677. 

Inquiries concerning NOFAs, application content or general program questions should be directed to the specific program officer or program staff.

How do I submit a grant application?

eGrants is an online system designed to automate the entire grants and project management process from application to closeout.  It allows applicants to find funding opportunities, apply for grants or projects, and manage grant reporting online. Visit eGrants.

Do you have any national conferences or trainings?

Each summer CNCS hosts workshops and seminars at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation.

Where can I find training and technical assistance information?

The National Service Knowledge Network, CNCS’s online stop for training and technical assistance. Through the Resource Center, you can access training publications, sample forms, funding notices, effective practices, and much more. For a directory of all CNCS training and technical assistance providers, visit the Learning and Best Practices page.

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