SCA AmeriCorps - the details

As part of their SCA experience, most members are offered the option to enroll in AmeriCorps for their SCA position. This means that members can choose to participate in the SCA program as an AmeriCorps member.  Please remember that some Corps positions require that you serve as an AmeriCorps member, but you have the option to enroll for Internship positions.

When you choose to serve in an SCA AmeriCorps program, you become an AmeriCorps member in addition to an SCA member.  All you will need to do is follow a few additional paperwork and program requirements and commit to completing a minimum number of hours for your internship.  Joining the SCA AmeriCorps program demonstrates your commitment to national service.

SCA AmeriCorps members, upon successful completion of service, will receive education funds, which can be used to pay qualified student loans (loans backed by the federal government only--not private loans), graduate or undergraduate tuition, or educational expenses for qualified enrichment classes. Awards are good for 7 years, so even if you aren’t enrolled in school you can save it for when you need it.

Watch a short video about AmeriCorps here.

AmeriCorps Education Awards are made possible by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.  We only have a limited number of spots in AmeriCorps each year; therefore, the option to enroll in AmeriCorps is on a first-come first-serve basis. Find out more about the AmeriCorps Education Award on the AmeriCorps website, and learn all about SCA’s AmeriCorps Education Award Program below.

Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in the SCA AmeriCorps Education Award Program, SCA members must:

  • Be selected into an eligible SCA position. 
  • Be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or lawful permanent resident alien of the U.S.
  • Be at least 17 years of age at the start of their SCA position.
  • Have a high school diploma or agree to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent before using the award.
  • Pass the AmeriCorps criminal history review.

Additionally, anyone who has served in AmeriCorps previously (with SCA or another organization) must:

  • Have served in AmeriCorps no more than 3 times (AmeriCorps terms are now limited to 4) and received not more than the equivalent of two full-time, 1700-hr awards.
  • Have performed satisfactorily in any previous terms of service.

Awards

Members are offered Education Awards based on award availability and length of service. One of the below awards is offered in your Confirmation of Acceptance based on your length of service, and this is the award that you will be enrolled in if you choose to enroll in AmeriCorps for your position.

Each person can now serve in AmeriCorps a maximum of 4 times (no longer limited to 2!), but cannot earn more than the value of two 1700-hr awards. Even if you leave early and receive no education award, the term will, in most cases, count as one of your maximum 4 terms but won’t count toward your monetary limit. 

  • $1,221 - 300 minimum service hours for positions 8-11 weeks
  • $1,527 - 450 minimum service hours for positions 12-23 weeks
  • $2,887 - 900 minimum service hours for positions 24-44 weeks
  • $5,775 - 1700 minimum service hours for positions 45-52 weeks

You must complete the entire length of your service and serve your minimum required hours to receive an education award. 

For details about the AmeriCorps Education Award, visit the AmeriCorps Education Award FAQs on the AmeriCorps website.

Initial Paperwork for AmeriCorps

This paperwork is required before you are officially enrolled for the award and must be received with your SCA paperwork. All of these documents should have been emailed to you to complete electronically. The paper documents below are for reference only.

Background Check Requirements

To be eligible to serve as an AmeriCorps member, you must agree to SCA conducting criminal history checks through the National Sex Offender Registry and the state repository for the state the you are currently residing and the state that your position is in.  There are often additional criminal  history checks run by your service site.  In some extreme situations, you may need to be fingerprinted up to 3 times to complete all of these required checks.  SCA is committed to making this process as simple as possible, but because of federal and state regulations, this process if often cumbersome.  Please just be aware of this when choosing to become an AmeriCorps member and remember that we are hear to support you through the process.

Hour Requirements 

In order to fulfill the requirements for SCA AmeriCorps and receive your education award at the end, you must complete the entire length of your service and the minimum hours agreed to in your SCA AmeriCorps Member Agreement. Most members exceed the minimum hours.

Your SCA AmeriCorps service is to be continuous, and any change in your service requires approval from your program manager and SCA. You are required to stay for the full length of your service and track hours up until your official end date unless you have an illness or emergency that results in your early departure.

Service Logs

It is your responsibility to track your service hours daily to make sure that you reach the minimum required hours offered in your Confirmation of Acceptance and agreed to in your SCA AmeriCorps Member Agreement. 

To get started, access your time logs via your MySCA account. Go to the "Manage My Service Tasks" Tab. (If you are out of the field, your time logs will be under your “View My History” tab.) Click on your position.

You will submit both activity logs, which cover your hours completed each week, as well as regular output logs, which details the kinds of work you are accomplishing. For more details, check out the FAQs here

All SCA members are expected to complete their activity logs on a weekly basis, unless backcountry service limits computer access. Output logs are completed as you finish specific hitches or projects or on a regular basis to sum up accomplishments in one work category over a period of time. 

Community Outreach Project

All members are expected to complete a community outreach project during their position.  This project is planned and carried out by the member and can be whatever makes sense for that individual and the location where they are serving.  More information can be found here.

Student Loans and Forbearance

If you have qualified student loans, you can place your loans in forbearance during your service and have the accrued interest paid at the end of your service. This is handled directly by you, AmeriCorps, and your lender. Read the document below for the step-by-step instructions.

You will receive a welcome email with details about the AmeriCorps Education Award Program during your third week. This email will confirm that you are officially enrolled, and at that time you will be able to request forbearance.

Mid- and End-of-Term Evaluations

As an AmeriCorps member you are required to have a completed end-of-term evaluation on file. Members enrolled in 1700-hr and 900-hr AmeriCorps Education Awards also need a completed mid-term evaluation. These evaluations are completed online and will be distributed to your supervisor by email as part of the regular communications SCA sends throughout the internship. Please make sure your supervisor completes these at the end of your internship. 

AmeriCorps Uniform

Members enrolled in the Education Award Program will receive an AmeriCorps embroidered patch and AmeriCorps button in addition to your SCA uniform. Please identify yourself as an AmeriCorps member by wearing these as part of your uniform.

Grievances and Incidents

Please contact SCA with issues related to your service assignment, training, supervision, or housing as early as possible. Most problems can be resolved through open communication between you, your supervisor, and SCA. If you are faced with an issue during your internship, the steps toward resolution are outlined in the Informal Resolution Procedure:

  • First, attempt to settle the problem with the other party on a one-on-one basis.
  • If this attempt is unsuccessful, attempt to settle the problem by involving your supervisor.
  • If involving your supervisor is unsuccessful, attempt to solve the problem by working with your SCA Member Advisor. Your Member Advisor will facilitate conversation between your supervisor and/or additional SCA staff to assist in moving the issue to resolution.
  • If your Member Advisor is unable to resolve the issue, your Member Advisor will bring the issue to SCA program management and identify a resolution based on the details of the specific situation.
  • If you determine that this resolution is unsatisfactory, you may write to the Operations Director for your program outlining the issue and your requested resolution. This letter must be submitted within 30 days of the initial issue.
  • In 99.9% of situations the above process will resolve all issues. If necessary, you have the right to a Formal Resolution Procedure which is outlined in your SCA AmeriCorps Member Agreement .

Prohibited Activities

While you are an SCA AmeriCorps member, there are some activities you may not engage in while wearing your uniform or accruing service hours. These include: attempting to influence legislation or election to public office; organizing or engaging in boycotts, strikes, petitions, or protests; assisting or deterring union organizing; engaging in any form of religious proselytization; or providing a direct benefit to a for-profit business, labor union, partisan political organization, or religious organization. You are also prohibited from raising funds for living allowances or for an organization's general operating expenses or endowment, writing a grant application to any federal agency, collecting fees, selling items, or participating in any money-handling duties on behalf of the agency with which you serve. You are welcome to engage in any of these activities as a private citizen on your own time.

Taxes

All SCA AmeriCorps members will have federal income tax deducted from their allowances, including living, housing and travel. SCA will mail a W-2 form to you in January for the preceding year.  And your education award will be taxed in the year that you use the funds.  AmeriCorps will mail you a 1099-Misc form in January for the preceding year.

AmeriCorps End-of-Service Paperwork

Visit the End of Term Wrap Up page to download your required AmeriCorps End-of-Service Paperwork. Please submit your AmeriCorps End-of-Service Paperwork, along with any final logs, within one week after your last day of service.  This is critical in receiving the education award at the end of your position, so please complete it on time.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness / College Cost Reduction & Access Act (CCRAA)

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (CCRAA) created two new federal programs: a new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and a new Income-Based Repayment plan (IBR) for the repayment of federal loans.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program offers forgiveness for outstanding Federal Direct loans for those individuals who make 120 qualifying payments after October 1, 2007, while working full-time in a “public service job” as defined in the Act.

Find out more about the CCRAA on the AmeriCorps website, in the FAQ developed by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Accessing Your Education Award 

After you've completed your service and submitted your end-of-service paperwork and signed timesheets, you will receive a "Confirmation of Completion" email. Please note that you will not receive a check or cash. You will access your award electronically through the My AmeriCorps portal. First click "Register to create a new member/alum account" if you do not already have a username and password. Inside the My AmeriCorps portal you can access information about your award and make online payments directly to schools and lenders.

Using an Education Award

You can use your AmeriCorps Education Award in any of the following ways—or a combination of them. For more details about using your AmeriCorps Education Award, visit the AmeriCorps website or the AmeriCorps Education Award Tutorial.

Qualified student loans: You can use an AmeriCorps Education Award toward qualified student loans. Qualified student loans are loans backed by the federal government. Private loans do not qualify. Check with your student loan holder to find out if your loan is backed by the federal government.

Current education expenses at a qualified institution: You can use an AmeriCorps Education Award toward qualified expenses at any Title IV institution, which means a school that can provide federal financial aid. If a school has a FAFSA code with the U.S. Department of Education (You can look it up here), the school is qualified.

Nontraditional educational institutions: Sometimes educational institutions that don't meet the requirements above might have an arrangement with a nearby university that allows AmeriCorps alumni to apply an AmeriCorps Education Award toward a course payment. A few of these institutions are listed below and can be contacted directly for details:

  • National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) – Partners with Central Wyoming College
  • Aerie Backcountry Medicine - Partners with the University of Montana
  • Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) - Partners with Sterling College
  • Shelter Institute - Partners with the University of Maine

Additional Resources 

After you finish your service, you are officially part of the network of AmeriCorps alumni. Below are some other resources for you as an AmeriCorps alum:

AmeriCorps website - Everything about the AmeriCorps Education Award.

School with Extra Benefits for AmeriCorps Alums - Lists schools that either match the education award or offer additional benefits to AmeriCorps alumni, which as admissions application fee waivers.

AmeriCorps Alums – Stay involved with service and connect with other AmeriCorps alumni from around the country on the AmeriCorps Alums Facebook page.

Questions

Questions about SCA's AmeriCorps Education Award Program: Contact your Member Advisor by email or at 603.543.1700.

Questions about an AmeriCorps Education Award payment or issues with the My AmeriCorps portal: Contact the National Service Hotline at 1-800-942-2677. The Hotline is staffed by customer service representatives from 8:00-8:00 EST.  

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