If you're a middle or high school student looking for a little extra financial help as you prepare for college, consider giving up a few of your summer days to help out your community.
As of 2010, the Learn and Serve America division of the Corporation of National and Community Service has a new program called Summer of Service, which is designed for students who haven't reached college age yet. However, it has been in the making for several years. Innovations in Civic Participation, an organization devoted to expanding and enhancing youth service opportunities, first proposed and fought for a national Summer of Service program for teenagers. The organization worked with Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Rosa DeLauro to draft the Summer of Service Act of 2007, but it wasn't passed. Two years later, legislators reintroduced the program, and it became part of the Serve America Act of 2009 [source: ICICP].
By enrolling in a program, students who complete 100 hours of service may be eligible for $500 or $750 education awards for their work, depending on need [source: Learn and Serve America]. The funds are designated for middle- and high-schoolers, but preference is given to programs that enroll rising sixth- through ninth-graders. You can use these awards later on to cover higher education expenses or to pay down your student loans. Unfortunately, you may receive Summer of Service awards only twice, and you must use it within 10 years of receiving it. But your participation in this program won't affect your eligibility for AmeriCorps awards once you're older, if you choose to pursue that route [source: NASFAA].
If you're interested in checking out Summer of Service opportunities in your neighborhood, head to the Corporation for National and Community Service's Web site [source: Corporation for National and Community Service].
Read on to get even more information on financial aid opportunities for those who do national and community service.