5. AmeriCorps Program FAQs
Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest began its direct partnership with national service through a National Direct AmeriCorps grant in 2010, and were awarded a re-compete grant in 2013-14 and 2016-17, all of which reflect a three year grant cycles. The majority of our placements are AmeriCorps positions. JVC Northwest AmeriCorps members receive an education award upon successful completion of a year of service. Members receive a living allowance which funds their housing costs, food, utilities, transport to and from the service site, medical co-pays and deductibles and other costs incurred during the year. We are currently reapplying for an additional three years of funding to begin in the 2019-20 service year. Future funding is conditional upon government appropriations and a successful grant award.
How do I know if my position qualifies as an AmeriCorps placement?
Most (142) of our positions qualify for AmeriCorps. Some positions are not eligible for AmeriCorps because they are advocacy and/or ministry positions, and some positions will be non-AmeriCorps due to the fact we have a greater number of opportunities for full-time service than we have AmeriCorps funding for positions. Under the “Where We Serve” section on our website, there is a list of position descriptions; click on the details section to see if a position is an AmeriCorps position or a non-AmeriCorps position. Note: this will be updated to reflect 2018-19 positions
What is the AmeriCorps living allowance?
The AmeriCorps living allowance is an amount of money set by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that full-time AmeriCorps members receive during their year of service. The current living allowance for the 2018-19 service year is $13,732.
What is the living allowance used for?
The intent of the living allowance is that it be used for living expenses incurred by the member during the service year. Before JVC Northwest became an AmeriCorps National Grantee, our individual partner agencies paid for the living costs of the JVs. By becoming an AmeriCorps grantee we were able to substantially reduce the costs to our partner agencies and ultimately serve more people in need. The living allowance is used to cover housing costs, food, utilities, transport to and from the service site, medical deductibles and co-pays and other costs incurred during the service year. JVC Northwest offers to cover the cost of the monthly insurance premium on a basic medical plan. While the housing cost is a set amount, the JV AmeriCorps member will cover his/her share of the communal cost of food, utilities and other community-incurred costs with the living allowance. The monthly cost of living may vary, e.g., utility bills, especially in Alaska, can be quite high in the winter months. At Orientation, we will discuss how to adhere to our core value of simple living in light of receiving the living allowance.
How do AmeriCorps members receive the living allowance?
JVC Northwest distributes the living allowance according to AmeriCorps guidelines. The AmeriCorps member receives the allowance in equal amounts over a period of 10, 11 or 12 months, depending on where the member is serving.
Is the living allowance taxable?
Yes. Our experience is that if one claims a deduction of “0” on the I-9 form, one will not owe taxes on the living allowance income. However, individual circumstances vary and if an individual has other income from the tax year, taxes would differ accordingly. If this is a concern, we suggest you consult a tax expert.
Do all JVs receive a living allowance?
No. JVs whose positions do not qualify for AmeriCorps do not receive a living allowance. Instead, JVC Northwest covers all of the community costs and insurance co-pays and deductibles up to the out of pocket maximum (in addition to paying the monthly insurance premium). JVC Northwest will not reimburse any costs that are not covered by the insurance policy. JVs who do not receive a living allowance receive a monthly personal stipend of $100.
What options are there for managing payments of my federally qualified student loans during my service year?
Historically, it was common practice for individuals engaged in national service to make forbearance requests for federally qualified loans and request that the National Service Trust pay the interest that had accrued on these loans at the year’s end. Now, there are a greater number of options for managing federal loans, including repayment plans options that could amount to $0 monthly payments based on the limited income JV/AmeriCorps members receive. Income-driven repayment plans may be desirable to those actively engaged in national service, because they can work along with the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
The PSLF program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of their federal Direct Loans after they have made 120 qualifying payments on those loans while employed full time by certain public service employers. Please note: interest still continues to accrue on income-driven repayment plans, and there currently is not the same opportunity available as with forbearance to request the National Service Trust to repay the interested that has accrued during the service year.
For more information about different types of repayment options:
For more information about public service loan forgiveness:
What are my options for managing payments on non-federal loans or federal loans that do not qualify for national service forbearance or income-driven repayment plans?
Non-federal (i.e. private loans) have extremely variable options for reduction and postponement of payments for loans based on the policies of the loan servicer. It is important to check in directly with your lender/loan servicer to see what options may be available to you prior to your service year. Upon request, JVC Northwest can write letters to lenders verifying your term of service and your income. JVC Northwest cannot help with student loan payments that may come up in your service year.
It is also important to take into consideration that not all types of federal loans qualify for the same options for forbearance, deferment, and income driven repayment plans. Once again, it is important that you contact your lender/loan servicer to know what options are available to you with your loans prior to beginning your service year. For example, Perkins loans options vary by lender and Parent PLUS loans are federal loans, but they are in parents’ names. Lenders will look at parent borrower’s ability to pay when considering requests for Parent PLUS loans. In other words, your participation in a national service program and limited income will not qualify your parent for a reduction or postponement of payment with your lender.
Who is my lender/loan servicer?
Your lender is the organization that made the loan initially; the lender could be your school; a bank, credit union, or other lending institution; or the U.S. Department of Education. Your loan servicer is the company that collects payments, responds to customer service inquiries, and performs other administrative tasks associated with maintaining a student loan on behalf of a lender. If you’re unsure of who your student loan servicer is, you should contact your financial aid office or, for federal loans, you can look it up in My Federal Student Aid.
Can I get student loan forbearance as an AmeriCorps member?
Individuals in approved AmeriCorps positions are eligible for forbearance for most federally-guaranteed student loans. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) cannot approve or disapprove forbearance requests. JVC Northwest can only verify that the JV AmeriCorps member is in an approved national service position. Only the loan servicer can determine a person’s loan’s eligibility for forbearance. If a person does receive forbearance, CNCS will pay the accrued interest AFTER the person successfully completes their term of service. If you have student loans, it is important that you check with the lender to see if they will allow forbearance because of national service.
What is the difference between forbearance and deferment?
- Forbearance – A period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced based on certain types of financial hardships. During forbearance, principal payments are postponed but interest continues to accrue. If a person does receive forbearance, AmeriCorps will pay the accrued interest AFTER the person successfully completes their term of service.
- Deferment – A postponement of payment on a loan that is allowed under certain conditions and during which interest does not accrue on Direct Subsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. “Certain conditions” are more specific than those generally required for forbearance.
For more information on federal forbearance and deferment see: http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/deferment-forbearance
If my lender does grant forbearance, how does this happen?
The accepted JV AmeriCorps member can apply for loan forbearance after they are officially enrolled in the My AmeriCorps Portal online, after the JVC Northwest Orientation in August. Most members apply for forbearance through the My AmeriCorps website.
What is the AmeriCorps Education Award?
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a benefit VISTA, AmeriCorps, and NCCC members receive upon successful completion of their term of service. This education award can be used to pay education costs at qualified institutions of higher education, to pay for educational training, and to repay qualified student loans. You can make payments from your award in full or in part, and you can take up to seven years after your term of service has ended to use your award. There are general terms that guide the use of the award and a process to follow to access your funds. The award is subject to taxes. (Note: The award cannot be applied to private loans or parent plus loans. For a list of eligible loans see: http://www.nationalservice.gov/resources/ed-award/list-eligible-loans)
How much is the AmeriCorps Education Award?
The Education Award for full-time service for the current 2018-19 service year is $5,920.
Is the Education Award taxable?
Yes! Individuals incur tax liability for the year(s) in which they use the award. For this reason, many people decided to not use the entire award within a single year. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will send you a 1099 Miscellaneous Income Form if this amount is $600 or more. Please be sure to notify and send this form to anyone who helps with your taxes. Failure to report this miscellaneous income in your taxes will be followed up on by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and may come with additional fees. CNCS is a federal agency and reports the use of these funds directly to the IRS. Note: Any interest CNCS pays on loans that were put into forbearance during the service year is also taxable. You can request to have this interest paid at the same time you get access to your Ed Award upon successful completion of the service year.
What are the requirements to receive an Education Award?
The JV AmeriCorps member must accrue 1700 hours of qualified service, satisfactorily complete mid-year and end of the year performance evaluations along with site supervisors, and satisfactorily fulfill commitments as outlined by the member contract.
Is there a limit to the amount of Education Awards an individual can receive?
Yes. An individual may not receive more than the aggregate value of two full-time awards. Upon acceptance in the JVC Northwest AmeriCorps Program, please let program staff know if you have already been awarded the equivalent of more than one full-time service Education Award. This will help with the enrollment process.
How can I use the AmeriCorps Education Award?
The education award can be used to repay qualified student loans and to pay education costs at qualified institutions of higher education and training programs.You can find comprehensive information on using the Ed Award at http://edaward.org/, including more on what kinds of loans can be repaid with the Ed Award. A person has seven years to use the award and it is taxable. You do not have to use it all in one year. This site also gives information on whether or not one might be able to use the award in nontraditional ways, e.g., buy a computer.
For more FAQs on the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award: