How public service can boost college access

Colleges can provide in-state tuition, tuition discounts, priority points for admission consideration and academic credit
By: | December 15, 2020

Colleges and universities will have more direct access to 1.2 million AmeriCorps alumni through the organization’s new Schools of National Service affordability initiative.

AmeriCorps graduates can use scholarships provided by the organization to pay educational expenses at institutions that join the initiative. The scholarship, known as the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, can also be used to pay off student loans.

The award for a year of full-time AmeriCorps service is equal to the maximum amount of a Pell Grant, currently about $6,400.

Participating colleges and universities will also provide incentives and awards to AmeriCorps alumni, said Barbara Stewart, CEO of AmeriCorps.


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Schools can provide scholarships or fellowships to match the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. Schools of National Service can also provide AmeriCorps alumni with:

  • In-state tuition and tuition discounts
  • Fee waivers
  • Priority points for admission consideration; in-state tuition
  • One-year enrollment deferrals, especially as part of an intentional gap year
  • Academic credit for AmeriCorps experience

The Schools of National Service program will help colleges and universities “expand access to the students we’re looking to attract and enroll,” Jennifer King Rice, dean of the University of Maryland College of Education, said during a webinar Tuesday.

“We’re committed to preparing an education workforce that is diverse, civic-minded, innovative and creative, and prepared to meet the needs of diverse leanrers,” Rice said. “We know affordability critical for educators and those in other public service fields that are lower paid than other professions.”

Compared to the average American adult, AmeriCorps alumni are more likely to attain a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the agency’s research.

Graduates of the program also say AmeriCorps scholarships allowed them to pay for an education that they would have not been able to afford otherwise, the same report found.

Since 1994, AmeriCorps alumni have earned more than $4 billion in education awards, using $1 billion to repay student loans, the agency says.


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