YouthBuild AmeriCorps Program Manual: Education Award

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1 YuthBuild AmeriCrps Prgram Manual: Educatin Award

2 Table f Cntents The Segal Educatin Award: Basics... 4 The My AmeriCrps System... 5 Using the My AmeriCrps System... 6 The Official Wrd n the Educatin Award... 6 Financial Aid and the Educatin Award... 7 Financial Aid and the FAFSA... 7 Financial Aid Officers... 8 Cmmn Financial Aid Terms... 9 Avid Lsing Aid Dllars... 9 Selecting a Favrable Student Lan... 9 Nn-traditinal Uses f the Educatin Award Other types f schls Ging t schl verseas Nn-degree prgrams Matching schls Qualified Student Lans Making the Mst f the Educatin Award Lans during Yur Term f Service Interest Accrual during Yur Term f Service Cnslidating Yur Lans Public Service Student Lan Frgiveness Wh was Eli Segal and why is my educatin award named after him? What if I frget my My AmeriCrps username r passwrd? What if I finished serving a few years ag, befre they had the My AmeriCrps system, and was given a paper vucher fr my educatin award? What if my schl r lan cmpany is nt listed in My AmeriCrps? Hw d I knw if my schl is a Title IV schl r a schl that accepts the GI Bill? Can I use the educatin award t purchase a cmputer? Hw can I best use the award fr grad schl? Can I transfer the Educatin Award t smene else? Cntact Infrmatin

3 Natinal Service Trust Official AmeriCrps Educatin Award Web site AmeriCrps Alums Sample Letter t a Cllege Financial Aid Officer Primary surce material develped by NWREL (Prtland, OR). An EnCrps resurce, revised

4 Intrductin AmeriCrps members are eligible t receive an educatin award after successfully cmpleting their service. This educatin award can be applied tward student lans r cst f attendance at qualified institutins. Using yur educatin award is easy, and there are sme simple steps t take t make sure yu get the best bang fr yur buck! The Segal Educatin Award: Basics The amunt f the award is based n the number f service hurs cmpleted. As f Octber 1, 2010, the amunt f the Educatin Award will change annually t crrespnd with the amunt f the Pell grant. The amunts f the Segal Educatin Award fr member type and prgram year can be fund belw (Please nt that educatin award amunts fr VISTAs may be slightly different than the amunts belw): Slt Type Hurs f Service Amunt f Educatin Award Amunt f Educatin Award Full Time 1700 $5,550 $5,550 Half-time 900 $2,775 $2,775 Reduced Half-time 675 $2,114 $2,114 Quarter Time 450 $1,468 $1,468 Minimum Time 300 $1,175 $1,175 If yu successfully cmplete tw terms, yu may receive tw awards. In fact, as f Octber 1, 2010, members are eligible t receive up t the equivalent f tw full time awards. This means that a member serving in a half-time capacity culd ptentially be eligible t cmplete and earn educatin awards fr fur terms f service. Yu have seven years frm cmpletin f service t use the award. Yu can apply fr additinal time in writing if yu are unable t use the award within the seven years. Yu can divide up the award and use prtins at different times, as lng as it s used fr authrized expenditures within the specified time perid. The award is subject t incme tax fr the year in which it s used. The award can be used fr cst f attendance at Title IV schls (mst clleges and universities) r schls accepting the GI Bill, r t pay ff qualified student lans (lans backed by the gvernment). Schls accepting the GI Bill include a number f trade schls. (The award cannt be used fr certificatins, licenses, and natinal exams 4

5 apprved fr the G.I. Bill, but it can be applied tward educatin, apprenticeship, and nthe-jb training.) The My AmeriCrps System The Crpratin fr Natinal and Cmmunity Service has develped an nline system fr distributing the educatin award. T access yur award, yu have t sign up. Yu will need an address and access t a cmputer. Yu can register even while yu are still serving, and yur accunt n My AmeriCrps is yurs fr years t cme. The site has a wealth f infrmatin and frequently-requested frms. Yu can use the site t: Update yur cntact infrmatin Have yur student lans deferred during yur term f service (Frbearance Request) Request payment f the interest that accrued n yur student lans during yur term f service (Interest Accrual Benefit Request) fllwing successful cmpletin f yur term f service Request payment f qualified student lans (Educatin Award Payment Request) Request payment f current Educatinal Expenses (Educatin Award Payment Request) Extend the date f expiratin f yur AmeriCrps Educatin Award (Award Extensin Request) View the status f yur pending requests Check yur AmeriCrps Educatin Award balance View yur Accunt Histry View and print tax statements and frms View and print pay statements (as applicable) Access custmized letters certifying yur term f service with an AmeriCrps prgram Registering and using the site is easy: 1. G t 2. Click the Register as a new user link belw the lgin bx. 3. On the registratin page, enter yur last name, date f birth, scial security number and current e- mail address. 4. Click Submit and an will be sent t yu that will include a link giving yu access int the system. 5. Check yur and click n the link. This will take yu t a page where yu will be asked t create a Username and Passwrd. 6. Click Submit and the system will bring up yur persnalized hmepage. 5

6 Using the Educatin Award t Further Yur Educatin Using the My AmeriCrps System Once yu ve registered fr the My AmeriCrps System, it shuld be easy t use the educatin award. Yu can use the Educatin Award fr educatin expenses at Title IV schls, which includes mst clleges and universities. There is a search functin n My AmeriCrps t allw yu t find yur institutin, and yu can select the amunt yu wuld like applied t yur educatinal expenses. Yu can track yur balance t ensure that yur schl has accessed the award fr payment, and yu can print tax dcuments yu ll need. All educatin award payments are nw handled thrugh the My AmeriCrps system, s it s imprtant t create a lgin and becme familiar with the system. The Official Wrd n the Educatin Award Belw is the fficial language that CNCS uses n its Web site in regards t using yur natinal service experience and educatin award t pay fr schl. If yur financial aid fficers have questins abut AmeriCrps, shw them the belw material (which is als fund at and Current educatinal expenses, as authrized under 42 U.S.C (c), include: The "Cst f Attendance" fr a degree- r certificate-granting prgram f study at a qualified schl; and Educatinal expenses fr nn-degree curses ffered by qualified schls, such as cntinuing educatin curses. 6

7 Qualified institutins are Title IV institutins f higher educatin (including graduate and prfessinal prgrams), as well as qualified vcatinal schls. An institutin is cnsidered a Title IV schl, if it has an agreement with the U.S. Department f Educatin making its students eligible fr at least ne f the federally backed frms f financial assistance (such as Pell Grants, Perkins Lans, Staffrd Lans, Natinal Direct Lans, and Federal Cnslidated Lans). Educatin awards may als be used at a prgram f educatin apprved by the Secretary f Veterans Affairs. Beginning with terms f service that started n r after Octber 1, 2009, the educatin award may be used t pay expenses incurred in enrlling in an educatinal institutin r training establishment that is apprved under the GI Bill. T make sure that an institutin is qualified, check with the financial aid ffice f the institutin befre making specific plans. Current educatinal expenses are expenses that were incurred after yu became an AmeriCrps member. Financial Aid and the Educatin Award Financial Aid and the FAFSA If yu are planning t g t cllege and want t tap int financial aid, ne f yur first steps will be filling ut the Free Applicatin fr Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA), the frm yu fill ut t apply fr financial aid and/r student lans at a Title IV schl that s basically any schl that accepts U.S. financial aid, including many schls lcated verseas. Typically, yu will fill ut the FAFSA early in the calendar year if yu are planning t attend schl during the upcming schl year. It is imprtant t check with the schl s financial aid ffice fr its pririty deadline. Submitting yur FAFSA befre the deadline culd help yu t get the best pssible aid package. When yu near the end f the FAFSA, yu will cme acrss a sectin titled Additinal Financial Infrmatin (fr the schl year, this sectin is in Step Tw n page 5, sectin 44, letter d) which specifically asks abut AmeriCrps stipends, lan interest payments, and educatin awards. (YuthBuild students shuld ask their Prgram Directr if their living allwance is cnsidered an AmeriCrps living allwance.) The amunts frm these are deducted frm the adjusted grss incme yu reprted earlier in the FAFSA. When the frm arrives at the financial aid ffice, they will subtract the amunts listed in this sectin, giving yu a lwer adjusted incme and making yu ptentially eligible fr a larger financial aid award. It is extremely imprtant t fill ut this prtin f the FAFSA! Nt filling this ut will mean that yur AmeriCrps benefits are mistakenly classified as incme fr the purpses f financial aid, ptentially making yu eligible fr a smaller aid package than yu wuld therwise receive. 7

8 The reasn this matters t AmeriCrps members is that this sectin asks yu t fill in frm the previus tax year any AmeriCrps living allwance yu received, any prtin f yur educatin award used, and any interest payments made by the Natinal Service Trust n a qualified student lan. In ther wrds, if yur nly surce f incme frm the previus calendar year was frm AmeriCrps and yu earned $11,000 as a living allwance, then fr financial aid purpses yur incme is $0 and yu culd ptentially receive a better financial aid package than a student wh earned $11,000 at a psitin ther than natinal service. (Be aware that ther factrs may apply here fr example, if yur parents still claim yu as a dependent r yu have ther assets.) The ptential benefits frm cmpleting this sectin can stretch int tw schl years. Here s hw that wrks: the FAFSA yu fill ut fr the schl year is based n yur 2008 taxes. Likewise, the FAFSA yu fill ut fr the schl year will be based n yur 2009 taxes. If yur term f service runs frm , yu can ptentially receive the benefits frm this sectin f the FAFSA ver the next tw schl years. Financial Aid Officers The suggestins here have less t d with natinal service than with cmmn sense. If yu pay attentin t the financial aid prcess, yu can save thusands f dllars. Each year the Department f Educatin puts ut The Student Guide t Financial Aid. Frm this guide and ther resurces such as finaid.rg, yu can get valuable advice abut making decisins that will help yu pay fr cllege. When yu interact with financial aid fficers, think f it as a jb interview: be prfessinal and ask infrmed questins based n yur research. Financial aid fficers make decisins that can help r hurt yu, s it s in yur best interest t cme acrss as smart and businesslike. And, be aware that, thugh AmeriCrps has been arund since the early 90 s and thusands f Educatin Awards have been prcessed, the number f Educatin Awards that individual financial aid fficers cme acrss may be fairly small. At the end f this guide is a sample letter 8

9 t assist yu if yur financial aid fficer is unfamiliar with wrking with the Segal Educatin Award. Cmmn Financial Aid Terms Cst f Attendance (COA) the amunt it csts t attend a cllege r university. Included in the COA can be tuitin/fees, rm and bard, bks, supplies, and transprtatin. Yu can use yur award fr any cst that can be determined as Cst f Attendance. Cst f Attendance is determined by the financial aid ffice f the institutin based upn standard U.S. Department f Educatin guidance. Expected Family Cntributin (EFC) the amunt yu and yur family (if yur parents still claim yu n their taxes) are expected t cntribute tward the cst f yur educatin. This is based n incme and assets frm the previus tax year. Need the difference between the COA and the EFC is the student s financial need. When putting tgether a financial aid package, a schl will first take yur cst f attendance, and then subtract the expected family cntributin. The resulting number is yur need. Then, based n the infrmatin yu prvided in yur FAFSA, the ffice will create an ffer f grants, aid, and lans that match yur need. Avid Lsing Aid Dllars The danger in using yur award t g t schl is it can place yu in ver-award status meaning, yu might have mre funds available than yu actually need. Because the schl cannt give yu mney abve yur need, they culd reduce yur financial aid ffer. Under this scenari, yu culd lse thusands f dllars in financial aid when yu use yur award. Remember that yu dn t have t use yur educatin award until yu chse t use it. In certain cases, yu will save mney by accepting subsidized student lans (lans where yu dn t have t pay the interest while yu are in schl) rather than using yur educatin award. Als, when wrking with a financial aid cunselr, let them knw that yu have an educatin award, but yu wuld nly like t use it if it s nt ging t cst yu desirable financial aid. Selecting a Favrable Student Lan The financial aid ffice may make yu an ffer that includes a variety f lans. When it cmes t Staffrd Lans, an imprtant difference exists between subsidized and unsubsidized lans. A subsidized lan accrues interest while yu are yu in schl while an unsubsidized lan des nt. In ther wrds, a $1,000 subsidized Staffrd lan taken yur first year f schl will still ttal $1,000 after yu finish schl. An unsubsidized Staffrd lan will ttal $1,000 plus all the interest that accrued while yu were in schl. By filling ut the FAFSA crrectly, the schl might ffer yu a higher subsidized lan amunt than if yu had nt perfrmed natinal service. (Regardless f whether yur lan is subsidized r nt, if it s a qualifying student lan, yu can put it in frbearance while yu perfrm natinal service. When yu cmplete yur service, the Natinal Service Trust will pay the interest that accrued n yur lans. There s mre infrmatin n this is in Sectin 3.4.) 9

10 Nn-traditinal Uses f the Educatin Award The AmeriCrps educatin award was designed primarily t help pay fr schl tuitin and/r repay qualified student lans. But, it can als be used in nntraditinal ways. Here are sme yu may nt be aware f: Other types f schls Generally, yu can use the educatin award t g t any schl that ffers federal student aid (such as Staffrd lans). These schls are knwn thrugh the Department f Educatin as Title IV. If yu wuld like t g t massage schl, culinary schl r a trade schl, yu can use the educatin award as lng as the schl is listed as Title IV and ffers federal student aid. Smetimes, there will be tw massage schls in a twn and ne f them will be listed as Title IV while the ther is nt. It might take sme research t find the schl that will accept yur educatin award. T find ut whether an institutin is Title IV, yu can lk up schls at r call the Federal Student Aid Infrmatin Center at The educatin award can nw als be used fr educatin, apprenticeship, and n-the-jb training at a schl that accepts the GI Bill. Again, there may be similar prgrams at tw schls, ne that will accept the GI Bill and ne that will nt. T see if a schl accepts the GI Bill, yu can lk up schls at: Ging t schl verseas A number f schls in Canada, Mexic, and Eurpe are listed as Title IV. In ther wrds, American students can receive U.S. financial aid t attend. At these schls, yu can use yur educatin award t pay fr tuitin. T find ut whether an institutin is Title IV, yu can lk up schls at r call the Federal Student Aid Infrmatin Center at If a schl is nt listed as Title IV but yu wuld still like t attend while using yur educatin award, yu might be able t enrll in a schl in the US and participate in an exchange prgram. That way, yu are paying yur tuitin t a schl inside the U.S. while attending a schl verseas. T make this ptin wrk, it will take a bit f effrt n yur part t find a prgram that will allw yu t d this and t make it wrk. Nn-degree prgrams Yu can als use yur educatin award t take a class here and there at a cmmunity cllege r public university. Yu can take classes like guitar, swimming, r phtgraphy. If yu take ne r tw classes per quarter at a cmmunity cllege, yu can make yur educatin award last fr years and get a great deal f enrichment. Matching schls A number f clleges and universities encurage AmeriCrps alumni t attend by ffering schlarships t frmer Natinal Service participants. There are currently 91 schls that will match the educatin award. A list f schls can be fund at: 10

11 The Educatin Award and Yur Student Lans Qualified Student Lans The educatin award can be used t help pay fr qualified student lans. Natinal Service legislatin defines qualified student lan as a lan backed by the federal gvernment under Title IV f the Higher Educatin Act (except PLUS Lans t parents f students), r under Titles VII r VIII f the Public Health Service Act. In additin, yu may use yur educatin award t repay a student lan made by a state agency, including state institutins f higher educatin. Educatin awards cannt be used t repay any ther type f lan, even if the lan was btained fr educatinal purpses. Yu can use yur educatin award t repay defaulted student lans, as lng as the lans meet the definitin f qualified student lan. Mst pstsecndary lans that are backed by the federal gvernment are qualified fr repayment with a Segal AmeriCrps Educatin Award. Yur lender shuld be able t tell yu if yur lan is qualified. Qualified lans include: Staffrd Lans Perkins Lans William D. Frd Direct Lans Federal Cnslidated Lans Supplemental Lans fr Students Primary Care Lans Nursing Student Lans Health Educatin Assistance Lans Lans issued t AmeriCrps members by state agencies, including state institutins f higher educatin Making the Mst f the Educatin Award When yu use all r part f yur educatin award t repay yur student lans, it may be in yur best interest t let the lender knw in writing hw yu wuld like t pay. Here s an example: If yu submit yur vucher t a lender like Sallie Mae withut instructins, they will autmatically advance yur payments fr yu. If yur payments are $100 a mnth and yu submit a vucher fr $4,725, Sallie Mae will advance yu 47 payments, and yu wn t have t make anther payment fr the next fur years. An arrangement like this might suit yur lifestyle nicely. Hwever, when this happens, Sallie Mae is applying yur educatin award payment first tward interest and less tward principal. By prviding written instructins t yur lan hlder, yu can ask them t apply yur educatin award payment tward the principal. That will reduce yur payments fr example, yur mnthly payment culd g frm $100 dwn t $65 a mnth. At the same time, yu will need t start making payments right away but yu ll pay far less ver the life f the lan. 11

12 It is als imprtant t remember that yur Educatin Award is cnsidered taxable incme in the year it is used, even if yu apply it t student lans (fr mre infrmatin n the Educatin Award and Taxes, see Sectin 4 f this dcument). It may benefit yu financially t break up yur payments ver mre than ne tax year. Take a lk t see if the amunt yu wuld pay in taxes fr using yur educatin award exceeds the amunt f interest that wuld accrue n the lan if yu brke up yur educatin award payments ver tw tax years. Lans during Yur Term f Service AmeriCrps members wh are earning an educatin award may be eligible fr pstpning their student lan repayments thrugh a practice called frbearance. During frbearance based n Natinal Service, interest cntinues t accrue n the lan. If yu successfully cmplete yur term f service and earn an educatin award, the Trust will pay all r a prtin f the interest that has accrued n yur qualified student lans during this perid. The accrued interest paid by the Trust, like the educatin award itself, is subject t incme taxes. T pstpne repayment f yur qualified student lans, yu must first fficially enrll in an AmeriCrps prject, which electrnically sends enrllment infrmatin t the Trust. Then yu must request frbearance frm yur lan hlder by cmpleting the Frbearance Request fr Natinal Service frm. Yu can d this electrnically in the My AmeriCrps Prtal, r yu can request a paper frm frm yur AmeriCrps prgram. Yu will need t cmplete separate frms fr each lan hlder. If yu chse t cmplete hard cpy versins f the frm, cmplete the frm and submit it t yur AmeriCrps Prgram Directr, wh will cmplete a prtin f it t verify yur service and then submit it t yur lan hlder. CNCS cannt apprve r disapprve frbearance requests; it can nly verify that yu are in an apprved natinal service psitin. Only the lan hlder can determine yur lan s eligibility fr frbearance. If yur lan is in default, it may nt be eligible fr frbearance. Hwever, if yu have lans that had gne int default befre yu began yur natinal service, yu can attempt t negtiate an arrangement with the lan hlder r cllectin agency t bring the lan ut f default s frbearance can be granted and interest can be paid. Interest Accrual during Yur Term f Service In rder fr the Trust t pay all r part f the interest accrued n yur qualified student lans, the Trust must receive verificatin frm yur prject that yu have cmpleted yur service and are eligible fr an award. If yu have successfully cmpleted service and are eligible fr an award, yur prgram will indicate this in the AmeriCrps Prtal system when they exit yu frm the prgram. The Trust WILL NOT pay interest n qualified student lans if yu fail t cmplete yur term f service. Exceptins may be made nly fr thse unable t cmplete their service due t cmpelling persnal reasns, which may include a serius illness r injury, death f an immediate family member, r early clsing f the AmeriCrps prject. It s up t yur individual prgram t determine thse circumstances. Yu may then request the interest accrual benefit in ne f tw ways. Yu may use yur accunt n the My AmeriCrps Prtal t cmplete an Interest Accrual Benefit Request, r yu may chse t cmplete a hard cpy f the frm and submit it t yur lan hlder(s). Yur lan hlder sends this cmpleted frm t the Trust fr payment. 12

13 The Trust will nly pay interest n qualified student lans, as described earlier. Interest payments that the Trust makes n yur students lans are subject t incme taxes during the year the payments are made. Fr mre infrmatin n the Educatin Award and Taxes, see Sectin 4 f this dcument. Cnslidating Yur Lans Yu may want t cnsider this if yu can get a better interest rate by cnslidating ne r mre ld student lans. Here are imprtant pints t keep in mind: Make sure the new cnslidated lan is a qualified student lan. Otherwise, yu will nt be able t use yur educatin award t pay fr it. If yu are cnslidating during yur service year while yur lans are in frbearance (basically, being pstpned), make sure yu wrk with the Natinal Service Trust ( ) at every step f the prcess. When yu have finished the terms f yur service, the Trust will pay the interest that accrued n yur lans during yur service year. If yu cnslidate (pay ff yur ld lans and create a new lan) midyear, the Trust may nt be able t pay yur interest fr yu. Read the fine print. When yu take ut a new student lan, make sure yu knw all the fees befre yu agree t the terms. If there is a $500 lan riginatin fee n a $1,000 lan, it might nt make financial sense even if the new lan has a mre favrable interest rate. Public Service Student Lan Frgiveness If yu chse t cntinue in public service after yur AmeriCrps term, yu may be eligible fr lan frgiveness after 10 years. The Cllege Cst Reductin and Access Act f 2007 established a new public service lan frgiveness prgram, which discharges any remaining debt after 10 years f full-time emplyment in public service. The brrwer must have made 120 payments as part f the Direct Lan prgram in rder t btain this benefit. Only payments made n r after Octber 1, 2007 cunt tward the required 120 mnthly payments. (Brrwers may cnslidate int Direct Lending in rder t qualify fr this lan frgiveness prgram starting July 1, 2008.) Mre infrmatin may be fund at: 13

14 The Educatin Award and Taxes The educatin award, unlike mst ther schlarships and fellwships, is subject t federal tax in the year it is used. AmeriCrps living allwances received during yur term f service and any interest the Trust paid n qualified student lans are als subject t incme taxes in the years they were paid. When yu redeem yur educatin award and hw much yu redeem may have an impact n the amunt f incme tax yu must pay. If the Trust makes a payment n qualified student lans t yur schl r lender fr the entire amunt f a full-time educatin award ($4,725) in ne calendar year, yu will be respnsible fr any incme taxes wed in that calendar year n that amunt. If yu redeem nly a prtin f yur educatin award in ne calendar year, yu will be respnsible fr any taxes wed n that prtin. The interest payments the Trust makes n pstpned qualified student lans are subject t incme taxes in the calendar year in which the payments are made t the lender. The Trust DOES NOT deduct taxes frm yur educatin award r interest payments. After the calendar year in which the payments are made, yu will receive a Frm 1099 frm the Natinal Service Trust that shws the ttal amunt f yur educatin award expended and any interest paid n yur behalf. This frm may als be viewed n yur My AmeriCrps page. Yu will need this infrmatin t prepare yur incme tax return. Tax relief While yu are respnsible fr taxes n yur educatin award and ther AmeriCrps benefits, yu may be eligible fr tax relief thrugh the Taxpayer Relief Act f The IRS ffers financial aid t certain taxpayers t help pay higher educatin expenses. The IRS ffers tw federal incme tax credits (tax credits ffer dllar-fr-dllar reductins in yur final tax liability) fr higher educatin expenses. The Hpe Tax Credit, wrth up t $1,650 per student, is available fr first- and secndyear students enrlled at least half-time. The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit is a tax benefit equal t 20 percent f a family s tuitin expenses, up t $10,000, fr virtually any pstsecndary educatin and training. This applies t undergraduate, graduate and prfessinal degree schls and even fr less than half-time study. Fr mre infrmatin n the Hpe and Lifetime Learning tax credits, and ther tax benefits fr pstsecndary students, g t IRS Publicatin 970, Tax Benefits fr Higher Educatin, which explains these credits and ther tax benefits, is available nline, r call TTY callers shuld call Issues abut incme taxes are very cmplicated. The imprtant pint t remember is that yu shuld cnsider the tax cnsequences when making any decisins abut when and hw t use yur educatin award. 14

15 Life After Service Many individuals serving in vlunteer crps describe their time f service as life changing. Yu may feel similarly, and yu may find that yur experience in AmeriCrps impacts future life decisins yu make. Findings reveal that AmeriCrps alumni are mre cnnected t their cmmunities, cntinue t participate in cmmunity activities, and chse public service careers after their service with AmeriCrps. These days, the term netwrking seems t be everywhere. As yu apprach the end f yur service, there will be peple yu want t remember-whether r nt they'll be part f yur future wrk r educatinal strategy. Yu'll be surprised at hw quickly yu can frget names, telephne numbers, etc., unless yu have this infrmatin written dwn. Take sme time t gather cntact infrmatin frm each persn yu want t remember frm yur AmeriCrps assignments. Yu might be surprised hw far yur service family expands and hw yur cnnectins can benefit each ther and yur cmmunity. Service has been the defining feature f yur experience as an AmeriCrps r VISTA member. When yu tk the AmeriCrps pledge, yu made a cmmitment t serve nt nly during yur AmeriCrps term, but als beynd. Fr AmeriCrps alumni serving is an nging cmmitment and respnsibility. There are cuntless ways t cntinue t serve yur cmmunity, frm getting in tuch with yur lcal vlunteer center t chsing a career in public service. A number f resurces exist fr AmeriCrps Alumni t help yu cntinue service and t help yu inspire an ethic f service in thers. Make sure yu update the cntact infrmatin in yur My AmeriCrps page whenever yu mve this will allw yur prgram t send yu infrmatin abut events and pprtunities as they get them. There is als a natinal rganizatin fr AmeriCrps Alumni called AmeriCrps Alums : Registering n this website will allw yu t stay in tuch with yur AmeriCrps family. The website has infrmatin n lcal chapters f AmeriCrps alumni, infrmatin abut service pprtunities, and a number f benefits fr AmeriCrps alumni, like free tax assistance. AmeriCrps alumni have even been able t get discunts n tickets t baseball games and enter int a lttery t walk in the Inauguratin Parade representing AmeriCrps! Registering n the AmeriCrps Alumni website is easy and can prvide yu with benefits fr years t cme

16 FAQ s Wh was Eli Segal and why is my educatin award named after him? Eli Segal was ne f the pineers f the natinal service mvement and the first CEO f the Crpratin fr Natinal and Cmmunity Service. In 2006, the U.S. Senate renamed the AmeriCrps Educatin Award as the Segal AmeriCrps Educatin Award. What if I frget my My AmeriCrps username r passwrd? The My AmeriCrps lgin page allws yu t have yur username r passwrd ed t yu. Yu may als cntact the Natinal Service Trust at: r Operatrs are available Mnday thrugh Friday frm 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. (EST). What if I finished serving a few years ag, befre they had the My AmeriCrps system, and was given a paper vucher fr my educatin award? The educatin award used t be a paper-based system. If yu finished serving befre the nline system was established (and have nt yet used yur full award), yu can sign up nline and prcess yur payments that way. The system will recgnize yu, even if it s been awhile since yu served. What if my schl r lan cmpany is nt listed in My AmeriCrps? The My AmeriCrps system prvides yu with a search functin t select a schl r lan hlder t apply yur award. The system is easy t use and mst members shuld be able t find their schl r lan hlder. If yur institutin is nt listed amng the search results, it desn t necessarily mean that it desn t accept the educatin award it may mean that have nt registered in My AmeriCrps. After yu d a search and yur institutin des nt appear n the list, click n the Nt Fund link. The next screen will ask yu t enter as much infrmatin as yu knw abut the schl r lan cmpany s that the Trust may cntact them. Yu will need t enter infrmatin in each f the asterisked fields and then submit the frm. These requests may be prcessed manually and can take several weeks t cmplete. Yu can als reach ut t yur schl r lan hlder and let them knw that they can register with the Prtal. The website fr institutins t register is: 16

17 Hw d I knw if my schl is a Title IV schl r a schl that accepts the GI Bill? T find ut whether an institutin is Title IV, yu can lk up schls at T find ut whether an institutin accepts the GI Bill, yu can g t: Can I use the educatin award t purchase a cmputer? Maybe. While many schls allw students t d this, it is at the discretin f the financial aid ffice and ften depends upn their definitin f Cst f Attendance, which can vary depending n the schl. Yu can use yur ed award t pay fr expenses cntained within the schl s predetermined Cst f Attendance. Sme schls will allw yu t increase yur Cst f Attendance in a given year t help pay fr supplies and equipment, such as a cmputer. Yur best bet: simply ask what their plicy is. Hw can I best use the award fr grad schl? It is smart t investigate ther frms f graduate schl assistance befre cmmitting t using the award. Typically, graduate students are ffered less in grants and wrk study than undergraduates. T help pay fr graduate study, it is best t seek ut schlarships, fellwships, and teaching and/r research psitins. Statistics shw that a high percentage f graduate students take ut lans t pay fr schl, and in this area, yur service experience and crrectly cmpleting the FAFSA can help yu. Once yu have a full picture f the types f aid available t yu, yu can make an infrmed decisin abut when t use yur Educatin Award. Can I transfer the Educatin Award t smene else? Maybe. Because f the Kennedy Serve America Act, sme members are nw eligible t transfer awards. Yu will be eligible t transfer yur educatinal award t yur child, grandchild r fster child if yu meet the fllwing criteria: Yu were at least 55 when yu enrlled; Yu began service n r after Octber 1, 2009; and Yu are serving in an AmeriCrps State r Natinal prgram. Only awards earned in terms beginning n r after Oct. 1, 2009, are eligible fr transfer. 17

18 Additinal Resurces Cntact Infrmatin Natinal Service Trust Members can call a tll-free number t receive assistance frm the Natinal Service Trust: r The help line is staffed frm 8 a.m. 6 p.m. (EST). Official AmeriCrps Educatin Award Web site This website includes vital infrmatin n issues like lan frbearance, the effect f the educatin award n taxes, and hw the award applies t financial aid. AmeriCrps Alums The website fr AmeriCrps alumni cntains resurces including a jb bank, infrmatin n using the educatin award, service pprtunities, and a way t cnnect with ther alumni. Sample Letter t a Cllege Financial Aid Officer This is a typical explanatry letter that an AmeriCrps prgram might send t a schl s financial aid ffice: Dear Financial Aid Cunselr: We are prviding this infrmatin t assist yu in understanding the relatinship between AmeriCrps and FAFSA. An AmeriCrps member receives three types f benefits that are relevant t cmpleting the FAFSA: Living Allwance. AmeriCrps members may receive a living allwance t cver living expenses during their term f service. Educatin Award. AmeriCrps members are eligible fr an educatin award f up t $5,350 per term f AmeriCrps service, which can be used fr qualified student lans; current educatinal expenses at a Title IV institutin; and current educatinal expenses while participating in an apprved schl-t-wrk prgram. Payment f interest n lans. The Crpratin fr Natinal and Cmmunity Service pays interest n pstpned qualified student lans fr AmeriCrps members wh successfully cmplete their term f service. The member may als be earning Federal Wrk-Study wages fr serving in an AmeriCrps prject. All f these benefits shuld be included n the incme exclusin wrksheet f the FAFSA. 18

19 With respect t the educatin award and interest payment, the IRS has determined that these payments are subject t incme taxes in the calendar year in which they are paid. That taxable amunt is reprted n a 1099 frm. When the student files a FAFSA fr the fllwing year, the amunt f the AmeriCrps educatin award paid in the base year (i.e., 2008 calendar year fr the FAFSA) and included in that year s adjusted grss incme (AGI) is t be excluded frm the need analysis calculatin. In mst cases, the entire educatin award amunt that was paid is taxable, s the entire amunt that was paid is included in the AGI. Thus the filer is t reprt all the award that was paid, nt just the amunt in excess f tuitin, fees, bks, and supplies. Additinal infrmatin abut the award is available at 19

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