Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania AmeriCorps Program
Scholars in Service to Pennsylvania is an AmeriCorps Education Award Only program (Ed Award). This means that participating students enroll as AmeriCorps members on a part-time basis and receive a partial Education Award at the end of their term. Students may choose to do a “quarter-time” or “minimum-time” commitment. A student who completes 450 hours of service over one calendar year can earn an education award of $1,468; a student who completes 300 hours of service over one year can earn a $1,175 education award. The award can be used to pay for any legitimate educational expense at their current undergraduate institution or to pay for future educational expenses, as well as to re-pay student loans.
What we’re expecting from your campus
We expect that your campus will recruit students to participate in this program. These students will be leaders on your campus who have already demonstrated a significant commitment to community service. These students will serve with an ongoing weekly service project where they will do approximately 8-10 hours a week of service depending on their commitment. They do not have to earn all of their AmeriCorps hours at the same service site; however it is recommended that they perform most of their work at one primary site per academic term. Students often earn a large portion of their hours in summer months as well. Many of these students may also have work-study money that they have been (or could be) applying to do “Off Campus Community Service.” We expect campus supervisors to see students on a regular basis (at least bi-weekly) to monitor their progress, collect and sign off on their time sheets, and provide them with structured reflection and training. We also expect the supervisor to be involved in the selection of service sites for your students. Ideally, these students will be campus leaders and will recruit other students to volunteer as well. This can be easily accomplished, for example, by having Scholars corps members plan and/or assist with a service fair in the beginning of the year. In our experience, it is best to recruit students with a track record of commitment. Many students are drawn to the idea of money for college. Often, these students do not have a track record of significant service and find themselves struggling to earn enough hours. Furthermore, while the Ed Award may be the incentive that distinguishes your Corps Members from other students, the campus should not build its leadership program around the award. We encourage you to use the Ed Awards to increase and expand your campus’s work-study offerings. You can do this by packaging the Ed Award with Federal Work Study service to attract students. There are powerful incentives for campuses to go above and beyond the 7% requirement. If a campus spends more than 10% of its work-study money on off-campus service jobs, it can receive additional money from the federal government. These funds can be used to expand work-study at the college. Work-study service is one of the best ways to organize weekly community service programs. Students should be able to make a deep commitment to service regardless of financial need. If students have to also hold down a job in addition to their studies, they often cannot participate in significant, meaningful service. The Work Study program allows students with financial need to both earn money to keep themselves afloat, while also providing significant, meaningful service to the community. It is also often the case that service sites need regular, committed volunteers willing to put in at least 8 hours of service per week (for example, to run a four-day a week after school program). This can often be too much for the average volunteer (who may or may not have a different paid job). By offering work-study money as an incentive, you can recruit students who can commit significant time to service and thus provide higher quality programming to your community partners. Any nonprofit community site or school can be a work-study host. If a student is tutoring school age children (4th grade and under) or tutoring in a family literacy setting, the student is participating in America Reads. This means that 100% of their work-study wage is paid for by the federal share. Neither the college nor the community site must pay for any part of the student’s wage. The federal share of all other community service jobs is 75%. This means that if a student is working with a job-training program, for example, either the college or the community site pays for the other 25% of the student’s wage. This 25% is often a reason why campuses don’t expand their community service work-study offerings. However, if a student is a Pennsylvania resident, PHEAA will reimburse the college (or community site) for that non-federal of the student’s wage, essentially eliminating the need for any local contribution to the student’s wage. For more information about PHEAA’s State Work Study program, visit: http://www.pheaa.org/workstudy/index.shtml Also visit the U. S. Department of Education’s website about Community Service Work-Study
Benefits for Students
Aside from the intrinsic benefits of service and the added benefits of being a part of a leadership program on their campus, students will receive significant benefits from participating in an AmeriCorps program. Their Ed Awards will allow them to earn $1,175 or $1,468 per service term for college expenses. (Please note that the Ed Award is taxable.) While an AmeriCorps member, they will also have all of their federal student loans deferred, and will have their loans placed in forbearance (meaning the interest is paid for by the Corporation for National Service Trust).