Use Your Education Award
After successfully completing your AmeriCorps term of service, you are eligible to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. You can use the award to repay qualified student loans and to pay current educational expenses at eligible institutions of higher education and training programs.
You can access the award in full or in part until the total amount is used, or until the award expires. The award expires seven years from the date it is earned.
Pay Educational Expenses
You can use your education award to pay current educational expenses at eligible schools and educational programs.
Eligible schools are higher educational institutions, both domestic and foreign, that currently participate in the Department of Education’s Title IV student aid programs. They are referred to as "Title IV schools." This category includes most post-secondary colleges, universities, and technical schools.
The award can also be used for programs of education, apprenticeships, or job trainings approved for educational benefits under the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. In reference to the education award, such programs are referred to as G.I. Bill approved programs.
If the GI-Bill approved program is offered by a Title IV school, the award can pay for current education expenses. If the GI-Bill approved program is NOT offered by a Title IV school, it is referred to as a "GI-Only Program," and special rules apply. The rules for using the education award at GI-only Programs are based upon the date the award is certified (approved) by an authorized program staff, and whether the AmeriCorps alumnus is a veteran.
- A Segal AmeriCorps Education Award certified on or after December 23, 2011 can be used IF the member is a veteran.
- An award certified between October 1, 2009 and December 22, 2011 can be used by both veterans and non-veterans.
- NO award certified prior to October 9, 2009 can be used for GI-Only programs, even if the alumni is a veteran.
Eligible Educational Expenses include:
- Cost of Attendance (COA) for a degree or certificate program at a Title IV school. COA may include tuition, books and supplies, transportation, room and board, and other expenses. The institution's Financial Aid Office determines a student's COA, based on U.S. Department of Education guidance and regulations.
- Educational expenses for non-degree courses offered by a Title IV school such as tuition, fees, books and supplies, as determined by the institution's administrative office.
- Costs associated with courses or programs authorized under the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. A Veterans Affairs-approved Certifying Official can determine covered costs.
Current educational expenses are expenses incurred after the start of your AmeriCorps service. Expenses that pre-date your AmeriCorps service are not considered "current." However, if you have a qualified student loan to pay for expenses incurred prior to your AmeriCorps service, you can use your award to repay the qualified loan.
If you withdraw from a school where you have used the education award, the school may be required to refund the Trust. If any refund is owed, it is credited back to your education award account, and is subject to the award’s original expiration date (seven years from the date the award was earned).
In rare cases, the education award can affect the process of receiving additional financial aid through FAFSA. Please consult your institution’s financial aid office to ensure your financial assistance needs are properly addressed.
Related information you can give to Your Financial Aid Officer.
Repay Qualified Student Loans
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award can only be used to repay the qualified student loans listed below:
- Loans backed by the federal government under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (except PLUS Loans to parents of students)
- Loans under Titles VII or VIII of the Public Health Service Act
- Loans made by a state agency, including state institutions of higher education
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award cannot repay any other type of loan, event if the loan was obtained for educational purposes at eligible schools or programs. You can use your award to repay defaulted students loans, as long as the loan meets the qualified student loan definition.
Forbearance & Accrued Interest Payment
Individuals who serve in an approved program may be eligible to have the repayment of their qualified students loans postponed while serving. You may be eligible for loan forbearance based on your national service. Interests may continue to accrue during your service. However, if you successfully complete the term of service, the National Service Trust will pay all or a portion of the student loan interest that accrued during your service.
Most federally-guaranteed student loans are eligible for forbearance. If your loan does not qualify for forbearance based on your AmeriCorps service, you may be eligible for another type of deferment or forbearance. Contact your loan holder to determine eligibility and options. The Trust can only pay accrued interested for qualified student loans. If your loan is in default, it may not be eligible for forbearance.
You can apply for forbearance at My AmeriCorps.
Contact your loan holder if you do not hear from them within four weeks of submitting the forbearance request.
Accrued Interest Payment
The Trust will pay all or a portion of the interest that accrued on your qualified loan during your service. The Trust can only make an interest payment after you successfully complete a term of service and earn your education award. The portion the Trust pays is determined by the type of service (full or part-time) and the length of service. Members who serve in a full-time service position, complete the term of service within 12 months, and receive an education award will have 100% of the interest paid that accrued during service.
Interest payments are made in addition to education award payments; they are not subtracted from your education award amount.
You can apply for accrued interest payment at My AmeriCorps.
A notice sent to your loan holder will verify that you participated in AmeriCorps and earned an education award. The notice includes a request for the loan holder to provide information about your qualified student loan to determine the correct amount of accrued interest. Once verified, the loan holder submits the payment request electronically to the National Service Trust.
Interest payments are reflected in your My AmeriCorps account, and will also appear on loan statements.
Interest payments, as well as education award payments, are considered taxable income and are reported to the IRS.
Use My AmeriCorps Portal to Manage Your Education Award
- Check your award balance and value
- Request payments to educational institution and loan holder
- Request forbearance on qualified student loans
- Update contact information
- Check living allowance and tax statements
Invite an Institution to Join the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program
VISTA Cash Stipend
VISTA members may choose to receive a post-service cash stipend in place of the education award. VISTA alumni who chose the stipend may also be eligible for up to 15% cancelation on certain types of loans. Contact the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Information Center for a list of student loans eligible for this type of cancelation.
AmeriCorps VISTA members who choose to receive the education award are not eligible for this cancelation.
Transfer Your Award
The Serve America Act allows the transfer of education awards earned by successfully completing terms of service in AmeriCorps State and National programs, under specific conditions. To transfer your award you must be at least 55 years old at the start of service and the award must go to your child, grandchild or foster child. See Transfer Your Education Award for details about the specific conditions and transfer process.
Extend Award Use Period
To be considered for an education award extension, one of the following must apply:
- You served another term of national service during the previous award’s use period, or
- You were unavoidably prevented from using the award during the original use period. Qualifying examples include:
- Member's serious illness, injury or disability
- Death, injury or disability of member's immediate family member
- Destruction or inaccessibility of member's records
- Natural or other disaster
- Administrative consideration
The National Service Trust will automatically grant an extension if you successfully complete a subsequent term of service in AmeriCorps, if that service falls within the use period of the previous award. This includes subsequent terms in which a VISTA receives a cash stipend instead of an education award.
The Trust may also grant an extension if you served in Peace Corps or the military during a previous award's original use period, and are unavoidably prevented from using your award during that period.
Length of Extension – If you:
- Are unavoidably prevented from using the award, the extension is generally granted for one year.
- Completed a subsequent AmeriCorps term, the extension is equivalent to the length of your subsequent service term.
- Served in Peace Corps or military service, and were unavoidably prevented from using your education award during that period, the extension is equivalent to the length of time you served.
To be considered for extension your situation must occur within the previous award's use period.
Notice of Award Expiration
An email notice is sent to you 6-12 months prior to the award expiration, if a balance remains in the account. Letter notices are mailed to those who are not registered on My AmeriCorps. To manually check the expiration date, log on to My AmeriCorps and click My Education Award.
Request an Extension
We encourage you to submit requests via My AmeriCorps. They are processed more quickly this way, especially if the request is based upon having served a subsequent term in AmeriCorps. Proof of your subsequent service will already be in the system. Proof of the date of your extension request will also be in the system.
To submit a request via My AmeriCorps:
- Log on to your My AmeriCorps account
- Click "My Education Award"
- Click "Create Extension Request"
- On the following screen, select the correct term of service and the reason for the request
- Upload any relevant documentation that supports your request
- Click "Submit"
If you are unable to submit a request via My AmeriCorps, a written request is acceptable. A written request must clearly state the basis for the request, citing the circumstance that qualifies you for an extension, and must include justifying documentation.
Send written requests via U.S. Postal Service – postmark must be before award’s expiration date:
National Service Trust
Corporation for National and Community Service
250 E Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20525
Send faxes to the secure fax number 202-606-3484 - the fax receipt or header date must be before the award's expiration date.
It is very important to submit your request before the award's original expiration date.
- For Peace Corps service, include a copy of your Description of Service (DOS) signed by the Peace Corps Director from your assigned country.
- For military service, include a copy of your DD-214 or enlistment form, and an explanation of why you were avoidably prevented from using your award.
- For a serious illness, include verification from medical practitioner citing health condition and explanation of why it prevented you from using your education award. (The Trust does not require detailed or personal information).
- For a natural disaster, include a copy of the fire department report or insurance claim.
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award has important tax implications.