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So…how do I pay for college? This is a common question for anyone planning for college. College funding can come from many different sources. There are traditional ways to pay, which include scholarships, financial aid (grants, work-study, and student loans), savings plans, etc. But some organizations will provide tuition assistance or loan repayment.

If you want to find a way to help the community while getting help paying for college, you’re in luck! Two programs, in particular, fit the bill: AmeriCorps and Teach for America. These organizations not only provide opportunities to learn valuable employment skills – they also offer education award money.

What to Know About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a service-focused program in the United States. Think of it as the domestic Peace Corps. AmeriCorps members assist in the community and in crisis events to better our nation. Members can engage in service opportunities in different states or stay local in their communities. Service terms typically last a year, but some can be less or more, depending on how active you want to be. Nebraska has 300 service sites and a multitude of opportunities.

Additional benefits include:

  • A stipend to help cover basic living expenses.
  • Supplemental health, accidental, and liability insurance.
  • An alumni network that can advise on potential jobs, college programs, or other AmeriCorps scholarships. 

What to Know About Teach For America

Teach For America (TFA) is part of the AmeriCorps national service network. The mission of TFA is to address education inequity in the United States. Corps members commit at least two years of teaching in a low-income community, are assigned a community to serve, and are employed by a local school. They serve in 50 regions throughout the United States. While there aren’t any TFA schools in Nebraska, there are opportunities throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country.

Additional benefits include:

  • Full-Time salary and benefits package from the school district.
  • Ongoing professional development and coaching.
  • An alumni network with connections to various working sectors.

The Segal Education Award is given to Corps members after they complete their service. The award is used for future educational expenses or to help pay down student loans. The award amount varies, but the highest a Corps member could receive is $6,895. To learn more about the award, click here.

Some colleges often offer benefits to TFA members, including application fee waivers, discounted tuition, and a Segal Education Award match. Additionally, members can place student loans and interest on hold while serving their terms.

How Corps Members Use the Segal Education Award

Former Corps members shared some of their experiences with the Segal Education Award: 

“My AmeriCorps service paid for most of my graduate degree. I earned two Segel Education Awards, which covered over 75 percent of the cost of my degree. Coupled with gift aid and money I earned teaching, I was able to complete my program with no student loan debt!”

Katie C. – Teach For America  

“I used my AmeriCorps Service Education Award toward my master’s degree in nonprofit management. The university I attended also discounted tuition for recent AmeriCorps service members. It really helped lower the cost of my degree.”

Rose C. – AmeriCorps

“The AmeriCorps education grant helped fund my master’s degree. I was able to save both awards for my program, and my school matched up to a certain amount of the award each semester. It ended up doubling my award.”

Angela L. – AmeriCorps 

Personal Experience: My Time in AmeriCorps

My AmeriCorps experience lasted from 2014-2016. I did my service with College Possible. This organization supports college-going students from under-represented communities. I worked with numerous students attending both Nebraska and Midwest colleges.

During my experience, I learned empathy, my organizational style, how to handle uncomfortable conversations, and doing passion-focused work. My two years of service gave me a lifetime of skills, professional development, and amazing friendships.

After each year, I receive two Segal Education Awards to help pay off student loans.

To learn more about these programs, check out their websites!

By: Alex Jurgens