In March 2009, the Senate approved a bill to broadly expand AmeriCorps — increasing the number of positions to 250,000 from 75,000. What’s more, the bill would raise the education stipend that goes to volunteers to $5,350 — the same as a Pell Grant.
So what does this mean for the average college student? If the bill is passed and you volunteer, you’ll get more money for tuition-- and there are more positions to go around.
And not only can you raise money for yourself, you can even get grandma involved. Retirees can earn a $1,000 educational award that they can transfer to a child or grandchild.
AmeriCorps is a U.S. federal government program that partners with local non-profit organizations, public agencies, andfaith-based organizations that was created under President Bill Clinton. AmeriCorps volunteers focus on education, clean energy, health care and veterans. In addition to adding positions to AmeriCorps, the bill would create four new service corps.
The Senate bill will now go to the House, which approved a different version of the legislation last week. Officials expect the House to adopt the Senate bill and send it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. Obama, a proponent of community service programs, reignited a call to community service during his campaign, by promising that college students who participate in community service will earn much-needed money for college.
Obama’s original plan also calls for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year. The plan, the American Opportunity Tax Credit of 2009, was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on January 6, 2009 where it is currently being deliberated, investigated, and revised, before it goes on to general debate.
Information compiled from The New York Times, www.americorps.org, www.barackobama.com and www.govtrack.us.