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VISTA member in her community
Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions

What do AmeriCorps VISTA members do?

AmeriCorps VISTA members serve full time (~40 hours/week) for 1 full year at a community organization (nonprofit, college/university, local government office, etc.) on anti-poverty projects. AmeriCorps VISTA members work on projects that build the capacity of their organization. Projects can vary and are not limited to: developing outreach and marketing campaigns, building a social media presence, creating a program database, writing grants, managing a program in its first year, and recruiting volunteers. If you are interested in developing a certain skill set, working on a specific project, exploring a certain career path, start your AmeriCorps VISTA appplication here: my.americorps.gov.

How do I apply to AmeriCorps VISTA?

Search for positions and apply at the My AmeriCorps Portal: my.americorps.gov.

Where do AmeriCorps VISTA members serve?

AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in every US state as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Who can apply to AmeriCorps VISTA?

Applicants need to be over 18 years old when they start their AmeriCorps VISTA service and must have one of the following citizenship statuses: U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens, or persons legally residing in a state that have the following legal residency classifications: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status. By law, only VISTA members who are either U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, or Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens—sometimes referred to as “Lawful Permanent Residents”—are eligible to receive an AmeriCorps Segal Education Award.  All other members will receive an end of service cash stipend. There is no upper age limit to apply to AmeriCorps VISTA. 


Specific AmeriCorps VISTA positions may have additional requirements on top of general program requirements such as a college degree, specific experience/classes, languages, etc.

How long does it take to complete the application?

The application takes about two hours to complete.

What does the application include?

The application includes a profile (basic demographic info) and an application that includes work and community service history, motivational statement, and two references.

Which citizenship status are eligible to participate in AmeriCorps VISTA?

U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens, and persons legally residing in a state that have the following legal residency classifications: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status or deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status. (By law, only VISTA members who are either: U.S. Citizens; U.S. Nationals; or Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens (sometimes referred to as “Lawful Permanent Residents”), are eligible to receive an AmeriCorps Segal Education Award in lieu of a cash stipend.)

When should I start applying to AmeriCorps VISTA?

The best time to apply is about four months before your anticipated start date, but you can search for opportunities at any time. Positions are posted year-round, so keep checking the My AmeriCorps Portal: my.americorps.gov!

What is the application deadline?

Application deadlines vary by position and positions are posted all year. You can apply year-round to be an AmeriCorps VISTA.

How many positions can I apply to?

You can apply to up to 20 positions at one time.

How competitive is AmeriCorps VISTA?

If you are over 18 years old and have the appropriate citizenship status, you can serve with AmeriCorps VISTA. Be flexible and open to different positions, locations, and start dates.

I have questions about the position, who do I talk to?

Each AmeriCorps VISTA opportunity listing has a gray summary box to the right of the page. There is a contact listed right above the AmeriCorps VISTA logo. Contact that person with any questions you may have about the AmeriCorps VISTA positon and organization.

I am having trouble completing the application, who do I talk to?

Call the National Service Hotline at 1-800-942-2677 or submit application questions via webform at: https://questions.nationalservice.gov

Why do I need to provide two references?

References are an important part of any application process. Teachers, professors, coaches, and supervisors are appropriate references. Friends and family members are not acceptable references.

There are no interesting AmeriCorps VISTA positions open right now, should I still apply to AmeriCorps VISTA?

Yes! Positions are posted throughout the year. Keep checking the My AmeriCorps Portal: my.americorps.gov.

What are the Benefits of AmeriCorps VISTA?

AmeriCorps VISTA is more than a service opportunity, you will also build valuable leadership and project management skills. You will start service with an orientation and have access to professional development opportunities throughout the year. As a capacity-builder, you will be focused on sustainabily supporting local organizations and agencies. You will be gaining professional experience and building skills as you learn, experiment, and adapt to a new environment while delivering outcomes. Many AmeriCorps VISTA alumni have said that their year of VISTA service afforded them managerial responsibilities they wouldn’t have found in an entry-level job.


AmeriCorps VISTA members earn a Segal Education award which can be put towards future higher education expenses or to pay off student loans. AmeriCorps VISTA members who successfully complete a year of service can opt to receive either the education award ($5,920) or the end-of-service cash stipend ($1,800). Use your AmeriCorps VISTA service as a gap year to pay off loans or save for school as your plan your next move whether that’s graduate school or entering the workforce.  Also, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive one year of Federal Non-Competitive (NCE) hiring eligibility, which provides advantages in the federal hiring process. 


Finally, you are joining a movement and becoming part of history: VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) was envisioned by President Kennedy to be a domestic Peace Corps. President Johnson enacted VISTA as part of the War on Poverty. VISTA is over 50 years old and by joining, you are entering a community with over 220,000 passionate individuals who have gone on to careers in every sector of this economy. President Johnson’s words are as relevant today as they were when the first class of VISTAs were sworn into service: "Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”


For a complete list of benefits, please visit this link.

Program Questions

What does national service mean?

National service is volunteer service on a national level. National service members are funded federally by the Corporation for National and Community Service and can serve in locations across the U.S.

What is the difference between AmeriCorps, NCCC and VISTA?

There are three AmeriCorps programs: AmeriCorps State/National, AmeriCorps National Community Civilian Corps (NCCC) and AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America).

 

  • AmeriCorps State/National (named to distinguish between State and National funding) is an intensive service program located in nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. Members must complete 300-1,700 hours of service.
  • AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a 10 month, full-time, team-based residential service program for individuals ages 18-24. NCCC members serve on 10- to 12- member teams that travel to serve in communities all over the U.S. and U.S. territories.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members serve full-time for a year at nonprofit organizations or local government agencies to build the capacity of these organizations to carry out programs that alleviate poverty.

Can I go to school at the same time?

Yes, but classes cannot interfere with your AmeriCorps VISTA position.

Can I have a part-time job at the same time?

Yes, you can have a part-time job. You need to request approval from your supervisor and the job cannot interfere with your AmeriCorps VISTA position.

Will AmeriCorps VISTA pay for my relocation?

If you move more than 50 miles from your home to a new community for service, AmeriCorps VISTA offers limited relocation travel assistance and a settling-in allowance. 

Does AmeriCorps VISTA provide housing?

No, AmeriCorps VISTA does not provide housing assistance. Specific AmeriCorps VISTA positons may offer housing benefits depending on the sponsoring organization.

What is the living allowance?

The amount of the living allowance varies by the county where the AmeriCorps VISTA is located. AmeriCorps VISTAs receive a living allowance similar to the income level of the community they are serving in.

What if I find a job during my AmeriCorps VISTA year?

If you accept a job or leave service during your AmeriCorps VISTA year, you forfeit all benefits including your stipend, the Segal Education Award, and Federal Non-Competitive Eligibility (special hiring eligibility for federal jobs after successfully completing an AmeriCorps VISTA year).

What is the Healthcare plan?

AmeriCorps VISTA members can enroll in either a Healthcare Allowance or a Health Benefit Plan. The Health Care Allowance is a reimbursement program that covers out-of-pocket costs associated with healthcare expenses. The Health Benefit Plan is available for members who are legally exempt from needing to maintain qualifying healthcare coverage. The Plan covers eligible medical office visits, most lab and x-ray services, and limited preventive care. Dental and Vision benefits are provided under both plans and telehealth services are available at no extra cost.

What if I don’t want the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award?

AmeriCorps VISTA members are able to select an end-of-service stipend as an alternative to the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. The end-of-service stipend is a $1,800 end-of-service cash award. You cannot select both the end-of-service stipend and the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. The Education Award received in AmeriCorps VISTA is non-transferable.

What is Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) and how can it help me get a job in the government?

Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) is a special hiring path for federal jobs. NCE is a hiring authority that allows federal agencies to hire AmeriCorps VISTA alumni outside the traditional hiring process. NCE status does not guarantee employment. AmeriCorps VISTA alumni must still apply and meet qualification standards and additional requirements, such as a background investigation. Upon successful completion of service, AmeriCorps VISTA alumni recieve one year of NCE status. 

Do I have to use my education award right away?

No, you have seven years after you complete service to use it.

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