AmeriCorps: Serve Others While Cutting Education Costs

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in others.” Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed these words long ago, but the sentiment means as much or more today, than ever before.

Are you looking for effective ways to help finance your Christian education? AmeriCorps was established in 1993 to bring a multitude of community service branches together under one organizational roof. The formation of this national organization brought about scholarship funding for students of any age to acknowledge and encourage students to pursue lives of service. Through AmeriCorps, students can benefit from the ministry of serving others while gaining financial assistance for education to further their goals in life.

Each AmeriCorps member who successfully completes a 1-year term of service will receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, a monetary grant that can be claimed up to seven years after the term of service is completed, and used to pay education costs at qualified higher education institutions, educational training, and to repay qualified student loans. This specific education award amount is tied to the maximum amount of the U.S. Department of Education’s Pell Grant, which can fluctuate from year to year.

From tutoring kids to building homes, clearing trails or starting local heath clinics, students can see the direct result of their year of service while gaining the satisfaction of making a difference in their community and country. In addition, AmeriCorps can help students pay cost of living expenses through a modest living allowance, help with college costs and student loans, and provide professional development that translates directly into job experience in a chosen field.

Additional financial aid opportunities related to AmeriCorps are available through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 that created two new programs for the repayment of federal loans: Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and an Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR). Both are intended to help low-income borrowers, such as AmeriCorps members living on a stipend, and recognize AmeriCorps as the equivalent to public service jobs.

AmeriCorps gives individuals an opportunity to make a difference in their own lives as well as others. Members address critical needs in communities all across America in the form of:

• Tutor and mentoring for disadvantaged youth
• Fighting illiteracy
• Improving health services
• Building affordable housing
• Teaching computer skills
• Cleaning parks and streams
• Managing or operating after-school programs
• Helping communities respond to disasters
• Building organizational capacities