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AmeriCorps denying Education Award - What to do?
November 27, 2012 6:17 PM   Subscribe

My AmeriCorps program is denying me my education award after I have served 10 out of the 11 months in my service year. The reason is because I am leaving for Teach for America.

Technically, according to NCCC official policy, "If a member is a welfare recipient and is able to obtain a job that will get him or her off welfare, the program may deem his or her early departure from a program as a compelling personal circumstance. The Corporation encourages individuals who have been receiving public support to take opportunities to become economically independent. The Corporation would not want such an individual to relinquish that opportunity out of fear of loss of a pro-rated education award. For an individual to be released for compelling personal circumstances for this reason, the program would need to determine that the individual was receiving welfare, and had obtained employment as part of an effort to become self-sufficient."

Since I am doing my service year in a very expensive area, I am a "welfare recipient" on food stamps. But when I brought this to my program's attention, they said that TFA does not count as a "real job," because it is am AmeriCorps program, even though it pays a teacher's salary.

What can I do, MeFi? Any and all help is appreciated!
posted by Kombucha3452 to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Reach out to your contact at Teach for America. Find their HRish person. Explain to them what is happening. This will, most likely, not be the first time they have run into this. They will be able to help you and likely be glad to do so.

Best of luck.
posted by driley at 6:23 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are they denying you the entirety of your education award, even pro-rated?

Given that the TFA position is not indefinite and amounts to a fellowship award, that may be why they're not designating it as a "real job". I'm guessing they intend the clause about pro-rating the education award to apply to people who are experiencing extreme economic hardship due to the low AmeriCorps salary and are being offered an opportunity for long-term, well-paying employment. TFA is not long-term employment.

In my experience AC was pretty darn stingy about benefits: going cheap on healthcare, trying to withhold education awards, etc. If they're truly denying you even a pro-rated education award it's possible you can get them to change their minds simply by fighting hard enough.
posted by schroedinger at 6:28 PM on November 27, 2012


A few things:

*TFA is not a volunteer program as many AmeriCorps programs are. TFA corps members are hired and paid by school districts directly, *not* by TFA itself.

This is critical to your question, as you indicate that 'it pays a teacher's salary', but this is absolutely not the case.

Because of this, I would not apply for any benefit from AmeriCorps listing TFA as your new employer--it is not. Use the school or school district in question, which is actually your new employer.

*You should also talk with the ED in your placement site and ask your question to her/him, because their team has undoubtedly seen this kind of thing before--especially around loan deferrals and grant repayments.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:35 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given what the above posters have said, I wonder if it would make sense to talk to your local US representative? You'd probably have to emphasize that you're a success story and shouldn't be penalize for finding employment.
posted by vitabellosi at 7:36 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was denied my teaching award (because AC "ran out of money"). I had to take it to my state senator, so if that's helpful, then do that.
posted by mrfuga0 at 7:44 PM on November 27, 2012


Nthing a call to your representative and/or senators in Congress.
posted by rollbiz at 7:58 PM on November 27, 2012


Explain the situation to your Congressperson, ask for "constituent services."
posted by whitewall at 3:11 AM on November 28, 2012


Seconding yellowcandy above. TFA will NOT be your employer (unless you are going to work for the organization itself), so don't tell them that's where you are going. If you ARE going to work for TFA, you will not be registered through Americorps.

Keep in mind, (as long as congress continues to approve Americorps spending) you will be eligible for two awards as a result of your TFA service (if you are teaching) and you might hit a limit, depending on if you received any previous education awards.
posted by jrichards at 7:25 AM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure you know this, but TFA falls under the umbrella of AmeriCorps. That's where TFA's education rewards come from. I believe a person is only eligible for two years of education award from AmeriCorps. So as long as your forbearance remains steady, I don't think you will lose anything in net.

on preview, jrichards makes a similar point.
posted by jander03 at 10:25 AM on November 28, 2012


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