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FAQs for Institutions that Process Education Award Payments

Individuals who successfully complete approved terms of national service in AmeriCorps programs are eligible to receive Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards. The awards can be used to pay for current educational expenses at eligible educational institutions and to repay qualified student loans.

The Office of the National Service Trust (frequently referred to as "the Trust") is an office within the federal agency Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The Trust administers the various functions related to education awards.

My AmeriCorps is an online system through which AmeriCorps members can request that payments be made from their education awards to schools and student loan holders. While members also may also request payments using a paper form, requests that are submitted electronically can be processed faster, more easily, more securely, and with fewer chances for error. And, 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.

Below are some of the questions asked most frequently by staff of educational and student loan institutions about processing AmeriCorps payments.

Using MY AMERICORPS for Online Payments

What are the various roles for an institution that processes requests through My AmeriCorps?

An Administrator should have the authority to assign and designate other staff to the various roles in My AmeriCorps, as well as have the authority to perform all of the role functions him or herself.  An institution can designate more than one person as an Administrator.

An Education Award – Expenses Processor should have the authority to determine the dollar amount of an education award that can be used to pay current educational expenses for a particular period of enrollment.  This includes being familiar with regulations governing the relevant types of eligible educational expenses—Cost of Attendance for degree or certificate programs and educational expenses for non-degree or GI Bill-approved educational programs.  For a more detailed discussion of "eligible expenses", see the link Pay Educational Expenses, on the web page Use Your Education Award.

An Education Award – Loan Processor should have the authority to determine the payoff amounts for qualified student loans for which a member wishes to make a payment using an education award.

A Forbearance Processor should have the authority to review and approve requests for the forbearance of qualified student loans.

An Interest Payment Processor should have the authority to calculate the amount of interest that accrued on a member’s qualified student loan during the individual’s term of AmeriCorps service or provide the daily interest rate during the period.  System-generated service dates are included with all forbearance requests.

Can more than one person at my institution have access to My AmeriCorps?

Yes.  Your institution’s Administrator has the ability to authorize your employees' various roles that will allow them to process actions through My AmeriCorps.  An employee could have a number of roles.  The Administrator has the authority that includes all roles and can process all requests.  Your institution can also designate more than one Administrator. 

How will employees who are assigned to these roles at our institution know when a payment request is ready for our action?

You have the choice of either receiving notifications by email or simply logging onto your account periodically to view the status of pending requests.  When the person registers, there is an option to receive emails. 

Why is the system asking for enrollment "start" and "midpoint" dates when I process a payment for current educational expenses?

The legislation governing the National Service Trust requires that payments for current educational expenses must be made at the beginning and middle of the enrollment period upon which the eligible amount is based.  If a payment request is received after the midpoint of the enrollment period, the entire amount will be paid. 

How do I get payments sent to us electronically--through Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs)?

The U.S. Treasury transmits Trust payments to institutions electronically through the Automated Clearing House (ACH), an electronic network for financial transactions in the U.S.  With some exceptions, the U.S. Treasury is now requiring that federal payments be disbursed electronically.

You can sign up for EFT payments by filling out Standard Form 3881, ACH VENDOR-MISCELLANEOUS PAYMENT ENROLLMENT FORM, and faxing it to the Trust using this secure fax number: 202-606-3484. You can obtain a copy of this form by clicking on the "ACH VENDOR . . ." link above, in this paragraph.

After you have been set up for electronic payments, when a payment is sent to your institution’s account at your financial institution, a notice will accompany it with the following information: where the funds came from (CNCS); last name and first name initial of the member; amount of the payment; purpose of the payment (e.g., current education expenses, loan payment, interest).

What are the security measures that cover the My AmeriCorps site?

In accordance with OMB and NIST guidelines, electronic signatures can be achieved in a Level 2 system via verified user registration methods.  OMB reveals that level 2 systems generally contain information that, if violated, would be financially harmful to an individual and cause a small degree of financial exposure to the related agency.

For the purposes of this system, we will be using a method that requires two separate steps.  First, the user must identify him- or herself to the system using predetermined data elements.  Second, the system will verify the individual’s identity, and then require him or her to establish a username and password for subsequent reentry.

Will we have a historical record of requests that are made through the system?

Institutions will have access to historical records maintained in the Trust’s database.  From your Homepage, you can select “Search Requests” from the left hand navigation bar where you can search and view past requests using a number of different fields.  You will be able to print a copy of the information, if needed.

 

General Payment Questions

If an individual comes in with a paper Voucher and Payment Request Form to request a payment, what should I do?

If an individual has access to the internet, we ask that you encourage the person to use My AmeriCorps, if simply for the reason that payments can be made faster, easier, and more securely.

In order to access their accounts, the person needs to be registered in My AmeriCorps, which should take them less than five minutes. Their registration process takes less time than yours does because the system already contains most of their required information. Most AmeriCorps members are registered.

In the event that registration in My AmeriCorps is not feasible, a paper Voucher and Payment Request Form or a paper Interest Payment Form can be completed and sent to the Trust for processing.  All required fields must be filled in.

  • The voucher is used for payments requested from an individual’s education award account (to repay qualified student loans or pay for current educational expenses).
  • The interest form is used for payments of the interest that accrued on qualified student loans while the individual was serving in an AmeriCorps program. 

Instructions for completing each form were included with the forms when they were sent to the person.

The completed forms can be sent to the National Service Trust at the address listed on the form, where they will be processed. 

Even though payments can be requested using paper forms, the fastest, easiest, and most secure way to process education award payments is online through My AmeriCorps.

How do we return funds that were sent to us and need to be returned?

The refund procedures are the same for both overpayments to schools (e.g., when a student drops classes) and to loan holders (e.g., when an overpayment was made for a loan).                                   

IF THE INSTITUTION STILL HAS THE UN-DEPOSITED U.S. TREASURY CHECK and wants to return it, send the original check to:

National Service Trust
Corporation for National and Community Service,
250 E Street, SW
Washington, 20525

IF THE INSTITUTION HAS DEPOSITED THE U.S. TREASURY CHECK and needs to return either the entire amount or refund a portion of the payment, the school or loan holder has the option to either:

  • return the funds electronically through the federal government’s website pay.gov.  On this site, you can transfer funds from a bank account (ACH) or use a credit or debit card; or
  • issue a check from the institution’s account and mail it to CNCS.

 

IF THE INSTITUTION RECEIVED THE FUNDS ELECTRONICALLY and it needs to return either the entire amount or refund a portion of the payment, the school or loan holder has the option to either:

  • return the funds electronically through the federal government’s website pay.gov. On this site, you can transfer funds from a bank account (ACH) or use a credit or debit card; or 
  • issue a check from the institution’s account and mail it to CNCS.

Some schools may not have the ability to make electronic payments based on their policies and procedures or they may prefer to make payments by check. In these cases, the school can issue its own check and mail it to the National Service Trust at the address above.

The recommended method for returning funds to the Trust is to use pay.gov.

Can I return the funds using a credit or debit card?

You can use your institution’s credit or debit card but you must do it through pay.gov.

How do I pay through pay.gov?

Pay.gov is a convenient and fast way to make secure electronic payments to Federal Government Agencies. Many common forms of payment are accepted, including credit cards, debit cards, and direct debit.
 
Log onto https://www.pay.gov/. Then, follow these steps for payment:
  • Click on Find an Agency at the top of the page.
  • Under the letter C, click on Corporation for National and Community Service.
  • In the AmeriCorps Education Award Refunds (Trust Fund) section, click on the Continue to the Form button.
  • In the Accepted Payments Methods section, click on either the Preview Form link, to review the information asked for, or the Continue to the Form link, to actually fill it out.
  • Complete the National Service Trust Fund Refund form, entering the Institution Information and the student's information in the Payee Information section. Click on Continue.
  • Complete the payment information form, review the payment and account information, and then Submit it.
  • At the end, pay.gov shows a confirmation for your payment. Print it. It’s your receipt until you receive one by email, if you have chosen that option.

 

 

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