Americorps – FAQ

JOINING THE ACCESS PROJECT

What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps, a federal agency, brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges through national service and volunteering. It is supported by a partnership of federal and state governments and local community organizations. AmeriCorps meets human needs and encourages community development through the activities of program members. AmeriCorps members are placed with nonprofits (faith-based and community organizations), public agencies, and schools to perform community service. Find out more about AmeriCorps.

What is ACCESS?

ACCESS stands for AmeriCorps Cross-Cultural Education Service Systems. Incepted in 1994, we are one of the AmeriCorps programs in North Carolina. The ACCESS Project focuses on helping immigrant and refugee communities gain better access to human services, build bridges of understanding with neighbors, and become economically self-sufficient residents of our state.

Who is eligible? Is there an age requirement?

To be eligible to serve in an AmeriCorps program, an individual must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident
  • Be at least 17 years old, (if you are 17 years old, you should obtain/secure your guardian’s signature)
  • Submit to criminal background checks
  • Have a social security card
  • Have a High School Diploma or GED

Individual positions may require additional qualifications depending on identified service activities.

The ACCESS Project does not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

What is the application deadline?

We begin accepting applications in March until all positions have been filled. We encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible to ensure consideration for a desired position.

Do you have to be a UNCG student?

No. Any eligible individual is encouraged to apply.

What do ACCESS members do?

ACCESS members are placed with our Partner Agencies/Host Sites to provide direct services to immigrants and refugees. Depending on their positions, some members provide employment services (e.g., resume building, mock interviews, job placement, case management, English language instruction, etc.). While some serve K-12th students in a Community Center with homework help, tutoring, and other education support-related services. A few may help to recruit, train, and manage volunteers to increase capacity for their designated host site. Additionally, some members’ duties may include teaching citizenship classes, providing transportation services, interpreting, and translating documents, among other services, to help immigrants and refugees to integrate into life in North Carolina and become economically self-sufficient.

Do I need a car to join this program?

Certain AmeriCorps positions require a member to provide transportation or require the use of a personal vehicle.

Do I get mileage reimbursement?

Yes, ACCESS members receive mileage reimbursement for all AmeriCorps program training workshops they attend.
Individual positions may require a member to use their personal vehicle as part of their AmeriCorps service and may or may not receive mileage reimbursement from their host site specified in the Member Service Description.

How long is the time commitment?

ACCESS members commit to completing one year of community service. Our service year starts mid-September and ends on August 31st of the following year.

Can I serve more than one term?

Individuals can serve up to 4 terms with AmeriCorps. Members can only earn up to the equivalent of 2 full-time education awards. Serving subsequent terms with the ACCESS Project will depend on member performance and successful completion of the previous term(s). Members who have previously served with ACCESS and would like to return to the program must reapply and undergo the interview process for reconsideration.

When can I start?

Members CANNOT begin serving at their host site and earning hours before the program start date. Members must complete the application process and Member Orientation before they can begin earning service hours with their host site.

Am I able to complete the program early?

Yes, it is possible for a member to successfully complete the program early. We have many members who get accepted into graduate school or have other opportunities they want to take advantage of. To successfully complete the program, members must meet the minimum required hours for their position, complete all trainings, and submit all required documents. Members should discuss plans to leave the program early with ACCESS staff and their site supervisors as soon as possible. If a member exits the program early, it may impact their living allowance, as the stipend is contingent upon active service.

What happens if I don’t complete the program?

Members who leave the program voluntarily or are released from service due to performance issues and have not completed the minimum number of require service hours will forfeit their education award and interest accrual payment benefits. Stipend payments, health and childcare benefits cease when members are exited from the program.

Members who leave the program due to circumstances beyond their control (and have provided evidence of such to the ACCESS program director) may be eligible to receive a portion of their education award and interest accrual payment.

Is the schedule flexible?

Most schedules follow regular business hours. However, members can negotiate their service schedule with their site supervisor prior to the start of service. 

Do I get paid?

ACCESS members in full-time and part-time positions earn a stipend/living allowance. Full-time members can receive a stipend of up to $20,000, and part-time up to $10,000 for the designated program year. Stipend payments are divided into 12 monthly installments. Stipend payments are directly deposited to the member’s bank account and are subject to state and federal income tax.

Can I work another job while serving in AmeriCorps?

Yes. AmeriCorps members can obtain additional employment so long as it does not interfere with the member’s service schedule or duties at the site. Full-time members may find it more difficult to maintain outside employment, as they are required to serve 35-40 hours per week.

Does the ACCESS program offer training?

Yes. The ACCESS Project provides members with several training workshops. There is a mandatory two-day orientation at the start of the service year. Additional required training days will be provided by ACCESS throughout the service year. Please see a schedule of the annual training dates. Service sites will also offer service-specific training and other professional development opportunities.

How do I get selected?

Applicants must submit a completed member application. ACCESS staff reviews applications. If the applicant meets the position requirements for those positions they are interested in, then the ACCESS staff will refer the applicant to the host site for consideration. The site supervisor will review the applicant’s documents and determine whether or not to pursue an interview.

The ACCESS staff will schedule an interview if the applicant is interviewed and recommended for a position by the host site. Interviews are typically conducted in person at the Center for New North Carolinians office in Greensboro. Video and/or telephone interviews are available to out-of-state applicants. After the interview, if an applicant agrees to be placed with the host site that recommended them, ACCESS staff will begin conducting background checks on the applicant.

When all background checks are cleared, an applicant and host site will be notified followed by an acceptance letter from the ACCESS program director.

HOUSING

Does ACCESS pay for housing or relocation expenses?

No. The ACCESS Project does NOT provide housing and does NOT have funds to pay for housing. The same goes for relocation expenses. Members are responsible for all housing-related costs.

EDUCATION AWARD

What is an education award?

The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a post-service benefit received by members who complete a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program. For more detailed information, please visit the National Service Knowledge Network at: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award

How much is the education award?

The education award amount depends on the type of position a member serves. See the link provided for specifics. https://www.americorps.gov/members-volunteers/segal-americorps-education-award/find-out-more

When do members get their education award?

Members are eligible to receive their education award after completing the program requirements. They must also receive a satisfactorily end-of-year performance evaluation.

What can the education award be used for?

Members may use the education award to pay back qualified student loans or for qualified educational expenses. For more information, visit: https://www.americorps.gov/members-volunteers/segal-americorps-education-award

Is the education award subject to taxes?

Yes. The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is subject to taxes in the year that it is used. AmeriCorps will send you an IRS Form 1099 to be used in preparing your income tax return. For more information, please visit: https://www.americorps.gov/members-volunteers/segal-americorps-education-award/find-out-more

How long do you have to use it?

Members have 7 years from the date of issuance to use the award. Extensions may be available under certain conditions. For more information, visit: https://www.americorps.gov/members-volunteers/segal-americorps-education-award/find-out-more

LOAN FORBEARANCE & INTEREST ACCRUAL PAYMENT

What is a loan forbearance?

Individuals who are serving in a term of service in an approved AmeriCorps position may be eligible to temporarily postpone the repayment of their qualified student loans through an action called a forbearance.

How do I know if my student loan is eligible for forbearance?

The AmeriCorps agency cannot approve or disapprove forbearance requests; it can only verify that you are in an approved national service position. Only the loan holder can determine your loan’s eligibility and approve a request for forbearance. Some private lender loans or loans in default may not be eligible for a forbearance. You are responsible for verifying with your lender that your student loan is eligible for forbearance based on national service participation.

How can I request a forbearance?

You can request a forbearance directly through your loan company (“loan holder” or “lender”) or make the request through www.my.americorps.gov (after you have been enrolled in the program).

What is an interest accrual payment?

While your loan is in forbearance during your service term, interest continues to accrue. However, if you successfully complete your term of service, the National Service Trust will pay all or a portion of the interest accrued on your qualified student loans during your service period. For more information, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award/using-your-segal-education-award/postponing

How can I request an interest accrual payment?

You can request an interest accrual payment by making your request through www.my.americorps.gov (after you have been enrolled in the program). 

Is the interest accrual payment subject to taxes?

Yes. The amount of interest paid by the National Service Trust is subject to taxes in the year the payment is made. A 1099 form will be issued for the amount used. For more information, visit: https://www.americorps.gov/members-volunteers/segal-americorps-education-award/find-out-more

OTHER BENEFITS

Is there childcare assistance?

Only full-time members are eligible to apply for childcare assistance benefits. Childcare assistance is determined based on income eligibility.

Is there health insurance?

Only full-time members are eligible for health insurance coverage that meets Affordable Care Act requirements. Health insurance is available for members who do not have health insurance. ACCESS pays the monthly premium, and members are responsible for co-pays and costs incurred from their visits to healthcare providers.