Help me jump start my career across the country
August 10, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I have a $9000 open-ended scholarship (AmeriCorps education award, actually) and will have several grand in savings at the end of September. How can I use this to fund relocation and a mid-Atlantic coast job search?

The education award can be used to pay for living expenses if and only if the college approves. Many people have used it to fund vocational school, European trips, Outward Bound, or a new computer by taking the right courses.

I'd like some idea of adult ed, certificate and distance learning courses that I could use to unlock some of that money for living expenses above and beyond tuition for several months after September, and to also have the freedom to jump a Chinatown bus or Amtrak at a moment's notice to interview for jobs. Having a next step in my career is the highest priority, but failing that, it'd be nice to have something like a certificate, extra training or renewed academic creditentials for grad school to show for the time. My academic interests are super broad but focus across non-profit administration, leadership, life coaching and technology. My undergrad degree was a double major in Journalism and Computer Science. I'd be peachy taking one of those As-Seen-On-TV video game production (ITT Tech?) courses, interesting community college stuff, getting a certificate in non-profit admin, starting a slow burn distance learning library sci or MPA distance degree, etc... The sky's the limit. Just to know that it's second to getting a regular job and travelling to do it.

Encouraging comments and any out of the box advice and school ideas are welcome. I could easily talk myself out of a cross-country move and don't need your help pointing out flaws or the economy. =) I am used to living and travelling on a budget and the money I have saved alone will last for at least a few months. Portland is way too small, too distant to other big cities and all of my first-runner-up job leads that would obviously further my career were outside of Portland and mostly east coast phone interviews. There are jobs in my field of expertise and I can make a strong case for myself.

I think I can up the ante if I dedicate myself to being within day's trip distance to high density population centers and face-to-face interviewing. Washington, DC, Richmond, VA, Charlottesville, VA, and Philadelphia, PA are places that I've recently visited and enjoyed. I have family, friends, couches and support systems to fall back on in South Carolina, Richmond, NYC and some points inbetween.
posted by Skwirl to Work & Money (4 answers total)
I used to be an Americorps administrator and, from my experience, I think you will have a hard time using those funds for anything but tuition - especially at a ITT-like place. The payments are made to the institution - not to you - so you would need to have something worked out where they were reimbursing you for living expenses. The only way I can see this working is if you took out a federally-subsidized loan and then paid back the loan with your award.
posted by jrichards at 11:32 AM on August 10, 2009

Response by poster: The payments are made to the institution - not to you - so you would need to have something worked out where they were reimbursing you for living expenses.

Exactly. That's the meat of my question. I'm looking for financial aid departments that are amicable to this kind of arrangement.
posted by Skwirl at 12:24 PM on August 10, 2009

Just to second that this is going to be hard. Congress has always been skeptical of AmeriCorps and there are an awful lot of checks in place exactly to keep you from doing the sort of thing you're trying to do. I used my AmeriCorps money at one private and two public universities as a post-bacc and then grad student. None of them would let me use the money for anything but tuition and fees.

This is even though when we were in AmeriCorps they told us it could be used for living expenses while in school, to buy a computer and textbooks, etc. I think that stuff works out easier if you're an undergrad who already has a financial aid package that includes room & board and books. Then they can just ask CfNC for some portion of that to be covered by your award. Enrolling full time as a post-bacc student at an undergrad university might allow you to do that, I'm not sure.

Also, keep in mind that you will have to pay taxes on the money after the fact. Using all $9k in one year would probably bump you up a tax bracket and you would need to have some money saved up to pay those taxes at the end of the year.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:25 PM on August 10, 2009

If you relocate, you'll pay out of state tuition, which seems horribly inefficient. You've no need for additional educational funding? I bet many states will give you an MBA for $9k, which seems like a bullshit degree, but may improve your earning potential by $9k.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 AM on August 17, 2009

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