VISTA FAQs

What are the benefits of being a Campus Compact VISTA?

Every Campus Compact VISTA who completes a year of service receives:

  • a post-service Education Award of $5,350 to pay for college tuition or student loans or a stipend of $1,500.
  • Monthly subsistence living allowance
  • Health Insurance
  • Student Loan Forbearance or Deferment for Qualifying Loans
  • Relocation Allowance*
  • Non-competitive eligibility for federal employment in the year following service
  • Housing and meal plans are available at some campuses

*Relocation Allowance is available for VISTA members who are relocating from out of state or at least 50 miles. Mileage/travel reimbursement and shipping allowances are available as well. Please check with specific Campus Compact affiliates for more details.

When do Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA members serve?

Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTAs must attend pre-service orientation (PSO) before they begin their year of national service. The VISTA year of service begins the day following PSO and extends for 365 days.

How do I apply to become a Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA?

VISTA candidates are recruited by each state Campus Compact affiliate and through the national AmeriCorps websiteCampus Compact VISTAs are in 27 states nationally, including CT, FL, HI, IL, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NH, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VT, WA, WV, and WI. 

What do Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTAs do on campuses?

Campus Compact Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs) spend a year of service on college campuses and in communities to address the needs of low-income communities. VISTA members leverage existing campus and community resources to facilitate sustainable local initiatives. Examples of VISTA activities include:

  • Improving access to college for underrepresented populations
  • Convening community forums to identify local needs and assets
  • Action planning and assessment of partnerships and partnership activities
  • Recruiting and coordinating placement of students as volunteers with local community agencies
  • Working with faculty to create and improve service-learning courses
  • Advising and mentoring students and student groups involved in community service
  • Planning and implementing tutoring programs in local public schools

Members of the Campus Compact VISTA team serve in a wide variety of communities and campuses. They meet regularly throughout the year for professional development and networking, and receive ongoing support from an on-campus supervisor, the state Campus Compact VISTA staff, and each other.

May I have another job while I’m a Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA?

AmeriCorps*VISTA members may not have outside employment.

May I go to school while I’m a Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA?

Enrolling in classes is now permitted for VISTAs, if:

  • the class commitment is less than full time,
  • if the classes and coursework do not interfere with VISTA service (in the event of a conflict, VISTA obligations must come first),
  • and if the member’s plans to enroll in classes are first discussed with the supervisor who agrees the educational plans will not interfere with VISTA service.

If there is a concern that classes or coursework are interfering with VISTA service, the CNCS state office will investigate; the VISTA member may be required to withdraw from classes within 7 days or face termination.  CNCS and Campus Compact are not responsible for any educational costs the member may incur, even if withdrawal is required.

For exact policies, please contact your state CNCS Office.

How do I use the End-of-Service Education Award?

When a member who has selected the Ed Award is successfully exited by the VISTA Member Support Unit, s/he gains access to a section of the MyAmeriCorps portal for controlling Ed Award payments (this normally happens within 1-2 weeks after the VISTA’s exit date).  In this section, members may identify the institution (lender or college/university) they want to pay with their Ed Award, specify the amount to pay, and request that payment be sent. The Education Award can be used to:

  • Repay qualified student loans or
  • Pay all of part of the cost of attending a qualified institution of higher education.

The Education Award is not transferable to a spouse, child, or other family member and must be used within seven years of the date the VISTA finishes service.

What if I do not want an Education Award?

VISTA members may elect a $1,500 cash stipend instead of the Education Award. VISTA members must choose either the Education Award or the cash stipend during pre-service orientation.

How do I postpone the repayment of my student loans?

If VISTA members elect the Education Award, they are eligible for forbearance on student loans based on national service. The AmeriCorps Trust will pay interest on the VISTA’s behalf upon completion of service after receipt of an Interest Accrual Form. The interest payment is not deducted from the Education Award. If VISTA members elect the cash stipend, they may be eligible for loan “deferment” based on criteria such as economic hardship at the discretion of the lender. The type of deferment will depend on the type and date of the loan.

What do I need to know about AmeriCorps*VISTA health coverage?

Health coverage begins on the first day of AmeriCorps*VISTA training and ends at midnight on your termination date. Coverage includes payment for most medical and surgical costs, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and certain emergency dental, vision, and maternity care. Some medical costs not covered include: routine physicals, dental exams, and eye exams; medical costs associated with pre-existing conditions (except prescription medications); chiropractic visits and procedures; substance abuse; and allergy tests. Coverage only applies to the VISTA member. Dependents cannot be covered under this plan. A $5 co-pay is required for all medical office visits. Get more information about coverage.

Does AmeriCorps*VISTA provide childcare?

VISTA members who have dependent children may be eligible for child care support administered through First Financial Associates. For more information, contact:

First Financial Associates
AmeriCorps CCBP
7079 Hayden Quarry RD
Lithonia, GA  30038
(800) 453-8151
http://www.1stfinancialassociates.com/

Forms and more information will be provided during pre-service orientation.

Where can I find information about post-AmeriCorps*VISTA careers?

Check out Jobs for Change, which offers job listings, a blog, and career advice from seasoned career guides who are available to answer readers’ questions. See especially the AmeriCorps section, which has career advice geared specifically toward AmeriCorps alums. Campus Compact is partnering with Jobs for Change to bring public service job opportunities to graduating students and AmeriCorps alums.

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