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AmeriCorps helps relieve student debt

Graduation is only five weeks away for students graduating in May. Now is the time to be on the prowl for a rewarding and financially supportive job with a salary to pay back student loans. AmeriCorps offers recent graduates the opportunity to give back to their community, receive a salary and pay back student debt.

AmeriCorps, a multi-branch service program, pulls in more than 75,000 Americans each year. The program places thousands of young adults into service positions where they learn valuable work ethic, earn money to pay back education loans and develop an appreciation for the community.

ORU graduate Ian Jones is a 6th grade Science and Social Studies teacher at KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory School. Jones is also the grade-level chair and science department chair. He teaches in a low-income community through AmeriCorps.

“I love being a part of a movement with other like-minded individuals who are united to bring about change and social justice. It allows one to give back to communities and be an active member of that community,” said Jones.

Ruth Adams, ORU alumna, is a member of NCCC-FEMA Corps, which is a partnership between FEMA and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). She is currently stationed at the Pacific Region campus located in Sacramento, California.

“FEMA Corps members spend 10 months getting things done for America while developing their individual leadership skills. My team is one of many that are deployed exclusively to support disaster preparedness, response and recovery projects through FEMA,” said Adams.

When Adams signed up for the program nine months ago she was uncertain about her future, but NCCC-FEMA is giving her opportunities to explore her future plans and network for opportunities.

“When I signed up for this program over nine months ago, I had no idea what the future held. Plans are still unknown, but I stand firmly, trusting God, who has continually gone before me, and always leaves me in awe of his handiwork,” said Adams. “I am a proud member of a team that will be trained and equipped with skills to last beyond the projects completed through AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps will provide networking opportunities that will open doors, and renewed perspectives to lead and see the worth in every encounter and situation.”

Financial benefits offered through AmeriCorps NCCC and FEMA Corps include: a living allowance, housing, food, transportation to work sites, limited child care benefits, limited health care benefits, training, uniforms and an educational award offered upon successful completion of the term of service.

“As a result of my term of service, I have gained the ability to have my loans put into forbearance, meaning AmeriCorps will pay any interest that incurs during my term of service,” Adams said. “Also, upon successful completion of my term of service I will gain my educational award, approximately $5,730.00, which I can apply to my student loans.”

More than 900,000 AmeriCorps members have served communities all over the nation since the birth of the program in 1994. Branches include teaching, nonprofits and public agencies. Pay ranges from $24,000 to $51,000 per year.

“AmeriCorps is a great opportunity to serve others, gain experience, and transition into your chosen career path,” said Empowered21 assistant Alyssa Beard.
Beard served in AmeriCorps from 2011 to 2012 in Orem, Utah. She served in the VISTA branch.

“I was able to use the money I made from AmeriCorps to pay off my monthly student loan payment for three whole years,” said Beard.

Any AmeriCorps member who serves a minimum of 12 months has the opportunity to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award and use it to pay for graduate school, textbooks and accumulated student loans. The total award is tied to the maximum U.S. Department of Education Pell Grant for the given year. Members of AmeriCorps may earn up to the value of two education awards.

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