AmeriCorps Education Award
After successfully completing a term of service, AmeriCorps members who are enrolled in the National Service Trust are eligible to receive an education award. The education award can be used to pay education costs at eligible institutions of higher education, or to repay qualified student loans. The 2014-2015 award is $5,645 for a year of full-time service. A member has up to seven years after his or her term of service has ended to claim the award, and each member may earn only two awards.
For more information, visit the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award page.
Education Award Uses
You can use your education award to repay qualified student loans, to pay for current education expenses at eligible schools, or a combination of both. For more information visit Using Your Segal AmeriCorps Education Award
Repay qualified student loans
The national service legislation defines "qualified student loan" as a loan backed by the federal government under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (except PLUS Loans to parents of students), or under Titles VII or VIII of the Public Health Service Act. You may also use your education award to repay a student loan made by a state agency, including state institutions of higher education.
Education Awards cannot be used to repay any other type of loan, even if the loan was obtained for educational purposes. You can use your education award to repay defaulted student loans, as long as the loans meet the definition of "qualified student loan." Some of the most common federal qualified student loans are:
- Stafford Loans
- Perkins Loans
- Federal Direct Loans
- Supplemental Loans for Students
- Federal Consolidated Loans
- Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)
- Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)
Pay current educational expenses at eligible schools
Current educational expenses include:
- The "Cost of Attendance" (COA) for a degree- or certificate-granting program of study at a Title IV school. The COA may include tuition, books and supplies, transportation, room and board, and other expenses. Each Title IV school's financial aid office determines their students’ COA based upon standard U.S. Department of Education guidance.
- Educational expenses for non-degree courses, such as continuing education courses or workshops offered by Title IV schools. Educational expenses that can be paid normally include tuition & fees, books, and supplies, as determined by the school’s administrative office.
- Courses or training programs authorized under the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. These courses and programs have been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs for GI Bill educational benefits. The educational institutions or training establishments that offer these courses and training programs will have a VA-approved Certifying Official who can determine eligible expenses.
Eligible schools are higher educational institutions that currently participate in the Department of Education’s Title IV student aid programs (referred to as Title IV schools). This category includes most post-secondary colleges, universities, and technical schools. To determine if your school is an eligible institution, ask your financial aid administrator, visit the US Department of Education's listing of Title IV schools, or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.
The education award can also be used for programs of education, apprenticeship, or on the job training that have been approved for educational benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. For the purpose of the education award, these are referred to as G.I. Bill approved programs.
Loan Forbearance and Interest Accrual Payments
AmeriCorps members who are earning an education award are uniquely eligible for one type of postponement of the repayment of their qualified student loan called forbearance. During this forbearance based on national service, members are not required to make payments toward their loan, but interest continues to accrue. If you successfully complete your term of service and earn an education award, the Trust will pay all or a portion of the interest that has accrued on your qualified student loans during this period. This accrued interest paid by the Trust, like the education award itself, is subject to income taxes.
Click here for more information on forbearance and interest payment.
- The Ed Award is claimed as other income on tax forms.
- Members will be issued a 1099-MISC with the amount of the award claimed (or spent) in the previous year.
- The amount paid by the National Service Trust toward student loan interest might be deductible. You can find more information on Student Loan Interest Deduction from the IRS.
- There are other Tax Benefits for Education which include deductions for money paid for tuition.
- Also consider avoiding singularly large tax bills by redeeming half the Ed Award one year and the other half the following year.
The Effective Education Award - Report by Brandon Rogers, National Service Fellow