Advice from Mom: Earning Tuition Credits

by Rae Osenbaugh

New National Service Program lets Students Earn Tuition Credits

Americorps is a national service organization established by congress in 1994. Members participate in a variety of programs from tutoring at-risk youth to counseling crime victims, to building affordable housing. In exchange for their service, students receive many benefits including tuition assistance.

This national initiative allows members to serve full or part-timein over 350 public service programs nationwide. In exchange for a year or so of service, members receive a modest living allowance, health coverage, and free education awards. Any American citizen 17 years old or over is eligible, regardless of income.

Participants receive a living allowance close to minimum wage, while earning an educational award of $4,725 a year for up to two years for completing 1,700 hours of service. The award is $2,362 for part-time service. Students can use this credit within 5 years of completion of service to help with college, graduate school, or vocational training, or to repay a loan if they've already been to school.

There are 350 programs nationwide. They include Habitat for Humanity, the I Have a Dream foundation, the American Red Cross, the Community for AIDS Partnership, and the New York Police Department. Depending on the program, a student could serve for 9 months or up to 3 years, full or part-time. Individuals are given a wide range of choices.

So far there has been a strong demand for all of the programs. Each separate program has its own screening process. Some programs have a limited number of spots to fill with local people, and some with people from outside the area. Some positions require an essay along with the application. Americorps expects to select 47,000 people for service in 1997.

Each program has a different application. If you are interested call their number: 1-800-942-2677. When you receive the referral form, it will ask whether you want to receive literature only on programs in your local area, or from all over the United States. The form will also ask about your personal interests. Programs that start in the Fall start recruiting in the Spring and programs that start in January recruit in early Fall or Winter.

These programs have received a lot of good press, they are worth looking into as an alternative to or in addition to scholarships!

Have a good day!

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