Is AmeriCorps like Peace Corps? Yes. AmeriCorps is often referred to as "the domestic Peace Corps." Both agencies are committed to service and both offer challenging and rewarding full-time opportunities. Peace Corps assignments are all overseas, while AmeriCoprs members servce only in the U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers serve for two years, but a stint in AmeriCorps usually lasts around 10 months to one year. Some AmeriCorps projects also offer part-time opportunities, and some AmeriCorps members servce more than one term of service.
What skills do members need to have? Some programs have specific skill requests in certain areas, and others look for a bachelor's degree or a few years of related volunteer/job experience. For others, motivation and commitment may be the primary requirement.
Do they get paid? For all AmeriCorps programs, members receive a modest living allowance, and some programs provide housing. They may not save much money during your year of service, but most members find the living allowance to be adequate to cover their needs. AmeriCorps members who complete a term of service also receive an AmeriCorps Education Award.
Is there an age requirement? Members must be at least 17 years old, although some service opportunities require you to be at least 18. For one of our programs, the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), members must be between 18 and 24 years old, but for most there are no upper age limits
Can a non-U.S. citizen join? One must be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident alien of the U.S. to be an AmeriCorps member.
Are there any loan forgiveness programs or repayment plans for which members might qualify? On September 27, 2007, President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (“CCRAA”) into law. In addition to other amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965, the CCRAA created two new federal programs: a new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and a new Income-Based Repayment plan (IBR) for the repayment of federal loans. The new Income-Based Repayment plan helps to make repaying education loans more affordable for low-income borrowers, such as an AmeriCorps member living on a stipend; AmeriCorps service is also recognized as equivalent to a public service job for the purposes of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Can members defer student loans during service with AmeriCorps? Members may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help pay off qualified student loans when the term is completed. Members can contact their lender for more specific information or to confirm loan status during AmeriCorps service.
What if a member is out of school and not interested in the education award? Can they get that money in cash? If members are a part of AmeriCorps VISTA, they may opt for a cash payment of $100 per month of service instead of the education award. All other AmeriCorps members are eligible only for the education award.
I'm confused. There are different programs, with different names, but they're all AmeriCorps? Yes, basically. AmeriCorps is a national network of hundreds of programs throughout the United States. Two of these programs -- AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps NCCC -- are managed nationally. The others fall under the umbrella of our AmeriCorps State and National programs, which are administered by State Service Commissions in each state and U.S. territory. Depending upon interests and ability, we work with members to determine which program might be best for them.
We have a member currently participating in AmeriCorps who has a question about their Education Award. Who should they contact? For general questions about the Education Award and student loan deferment, contact National Service Trust at 1-800-942-2677. If you have successfully completed your AmeriCorps service, you can view your AmeriCorps Education Award account balance and activity online. To request a copy of your AmeriCorps Education Award voucher or report a change of address, you can visit the FAQ Page.
For general information on student financial assistance, you may contact your high school guidance counselor, the financial aid officer at the post-secondary institution you plan to attend, the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243), or consult the Student Guide issued by the U.S. Department of Education.