How Financial Aid for AmeriCorps Works

Funding AmeriCorps Financial Aid

Former President Bill Clinton meets with graduates of AmeriCorps on Aug. 9, 1999.
Former President Bill Clinton meets with graduates of AmeriCorps on Aug. 9, 1999.
Cynthia Johnson/Getty Images

AmeriCorps and its related programs are paid for by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Money to be used for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is held in the National Service Trust, which was allotted $197 million for the fiscal year 2010 in the AmeriCorps budget [source: Corporation for National and Community Service].

There's been a lot more money available for community service in the past couple of years, thanks to the new community service laws. 2009, especially, saw a flurry of activity intended to increase the scope of AmeriCorps' programs. Of the new laws, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act has the biggest impact.

The bill first took shape in 2008, when Senator Orrin Hatch approached Senator Edward Kennedy to discuss the impact of service and some new ideas. Together, they wrote up and proposed their ideas, and President Obama signed the act into law on April 21, 2009.

Many of AmeriCorps' goals are supported by the Serve America Act, which creates incentives to foster a culture of service. The law provides for a nationwide community infrastructure fund, a volunteer generation fund, and a capacity building fund to maximize investments in service through training and development [source: Independent Sector].

The act also focuses on the educational benefits of AmeriCorps service by actively recruiting Americans to volunteer, with an emphasis on encouraging people besides recent college graduates to join, especially adults, retirees and kids in grades 6 through 12 [source: Committee on Education and Labor, Corporation for National and Community Service]. Broadening the pool of candidates will increase the diverse experience that volunteers can bring to the table, and in turn the new positions will reward service members with career-building skills.

New members will be rewarded with a newly-increased Segal Education Award, another provision of the Serve America Act. The award amount was raised from $4,725 to $5,350, and the maximum award will increase over time [source: AmeriCorps]. The award amount was boosted to match the Pell Grant, a federal need-based education grant for low-income students.