Have questions about AmeriCorps or the VHCB AmeriCorps Program?
We'll do our best to answer those most frequently asked:
- What is the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) AmeriCorps program?
VHCB AmeriCorps is a statewide AmeriCorps project of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB). VHCB AmeriCorps places 36 AmeriCorps members with sponsoring non-profit affordable housing and land conservation organizations around the state. Our dual goals are to create more stable affordable housing opportunities for Vermont residents while preserving the natural and working landscape by fostering a greater appreciation of and responsibility for the environment.
- 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, and AmeriCorps members serve only in the US. While Peace Corps Volunteers serve for two years, a stint in AmeriCorps usually lasts 10 months to one year. Exceptions: Some AmeriCorps projects also offer part-time opportunities, and some AmeriCorps members serve more than one term of service.
- What skills do I 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 I get paid?
For all AmeriCorps programs, members receive a modest living allowance, and some programs provide housing. You may not save much money during your year of service, but more 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.
- What is the education award?
After successfully completing a term of service, AmeriCorps members who are enrolled in the National Service Trust are eligible to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. You can use your education award to pay education costs at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans. The amount is tied to the maximum amount of the U.S. Department of Education’s Pell Grant. The award value is $6,195 for a year of full-time service, and is prorated for part-time You can make payments from your award in full or part, and can take up to seven years after your term of service has ended to use your award.
- is there an age requirement?
You 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 I join if i'm not a U.S. Citizen?
You 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 that i might qualify for as an americorps member?
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 High 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 which helps to make repaying education loans more affordable for low-income borrowers. For example: an AmeriCorps member living on a stipend. AmeriCorps service is also recognized as equivalent to a public sevrice job for the purposes of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
- Can I defer student loans during my service with americorps?
You may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, of the repayment of your loans during your service. The education award will help you pay off qualified student loans when you're finished. Contact your lender for more specific information or to confirm your loan status during AmeriCorps service.
- What if I'm out of school and not interested in the education award? Can i get that money in cash?
If you're part of AmeriCorps VISTA, you 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 your interests and availability, we can help you determine which program might be best for you.
- I am currently participating in AmeriCorps and have a question about my education award. Who should I 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 https://questions.nationalservice.gov/.
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.