When VISTAs complete a full term of service, either 10-weeks in the summer or a full year session, they choose between a cash stipend or an education award. Currently, the education award amount is $6,095 for a full year and $1,289.95 for a summer.
This award can be used toward current tuition, student loans or saved for future schooling. A VISTA has 7 years to use their education award. The education award IS taxed.
According to NationalService.gov, "Segal AmeriCorps Education Award can be used to pay current educational expenses at various types of schools — colleges, universities, trade schools, and overseas schools — that are designated as Title IV by the U.S. Department of Education. In other words, you can use it at schools that process U.S./federal financial aid.
Since the award can be used only for current educational expenses, you cannot use it to cover past balances in your school account. (You can, however, use the award on qualified student loans.)
When sending Education Award funds to a school, the money will arrive in two payments, and the second will arrive midway through the term or semester."
Additionally, some outdoor schools accept the education award.
Pro-tip: Ask your institution to match it even if they don’t state it. A Fairbanks VISTA asked all the graduate schools they applied to to match it and all did at different levels. It went through as a scholarship offered by the institution directly.
Find more information and experiences at the links below.