A person cannot receive more than the added value (or total) of two (2.0) full-time education awards. National service laws, amended by the Serve America Act, do not differentiate between awards received before the effective date and those received after the effective date of the Act. All prizes, including those won in the past, will be given values in order to track the added value of the prizes that a person has received. Therefore, if a person has received the value of two full-time education awards in the past, that person is not eligible to receive another award.
An individual cannot receive more than the added value of two full-time education awards, regardless of in which of the three AmeriCorps programs the awards are earned. A person who has received the value of two full-time education awards in VISTA, as well as other AmeriCorps programs, can serve subsequent terms in VISTA up to the limit of five one-year terms for the VISTA service. For that service, the person can receive cash stipends upon successful completion of each additional period. To pay for CURRENT educational expenses, that is, all or part of the cost of attending a qualified higher education institution.
Rarely, the education award can affect the process of receiving additional financial aid through the FAFSA. The amount of a full-time Segal AmeriCorps education award is equivalent to the maximum value of the Pell Grant for the fiscal year in which the national service period is approved. All payments made with the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award are subject to federal and potential state taxes in the year in which each payment is made. AmeriCorps VISTA members who choose to receive the education award are not eligible for this cancellation.
You have seven years from the date you complete your term of service to use your education scholarship funds. You can ask the sponsor of your program or project for the amount of the educational award for the position in which you are serving. Any amount of the educational grant used and any interest payments made during a tax year may affect your annual income tax liability. A notification will be sent to your loan holder to verify that you participated in AmeriCorps and earned an educational award.
Interest payments, as well as educational scholarship payments, are considered taxable income and are reported to the IRS. While a person can serve more than two terms, they cannot earn more than the added value of two full-time education awards. The maximum amount of a full-time education award is equivalent to the maximum amount of the Pell Grant for the year in which the national service position was approved. The Serve America Act allows the transfer of educational awards earned by a member who successfully completes a term of service in state and national AmeriCorps programs, under specific conditions.
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award can be used to pay the portion of the cost of assistance that is not covered by other sources of financial aid, such as scholarships, loans, grants, and exemptions from tuition or fees. Although you are responsible for paying taxes on your education grant and other AmeriCorps benefits, you may be entitled to other tax breaks under the Taxpayer Assistance Act of 1997.IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, explains the tax benefits that may be available to taxpayers who pay the highest educational costs or repay student loans.