Six months after graduation college students across America are faced with the burden of beginning to repay their student loans. They need to find work which will be enough to support themselves and to begin their repayments. Many students do not walk automatically into the job they want, and may face the prospect of low paid work or unemployment. A primary concern at such time is defaulting on their student loan repayments.
There are programs available which help the student in this position to substantially reduce their debt burden. One such program is run by AmeriCorps NCCC and provides a good start after graduation, and is considered on a par with a public service job, thus giving added experience to add to the graduates CV.
Those aged 18-24 are eligible to apply to volunteer for AmeriCorps for one year, and usually serve ten months. It is the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps. Graduates who are accepted into the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program are provided with a living allowance of approximately $4000, housing, meals and uniforms. It is not a fortune but it is a living stipend. The key factor is that during this term of service repayments to the student loans are deferred, and at the end of the year an AmeriCorps Education Award of ($5350 for 2010) is awarded which the student can allocate towards the student debt, and thus reduce a good portion of it.
AmeriCorps is not a program you can opt for at the last moment if you can’t find suitable work. It is a popular program with many applicants and it is advisable to apply well in advance of the deadlines. There are two programs beginning in the fall and the winter and the application deadlines are April 1st for fall and July 1st for winter. To qualify for the education award the student must participate in 1700 hours of community service.
The NCCC are based at five campuses across the country: Colorado; Maryland; California; MS; Iowa. If necessary the teams will provide domestic disaster relief and will be trained and receive certification in CPR, first aid and disaster relief. During the course of the volunteer year they may be called upon in one or more of five key areas. These are natural and other disasters; energy conservation; environmental conservation; urban and rural development; and infrastructure improvement.
The program will appeal to those who like to be involved in team work and learn new field skills. The experience will be invaluable with the added benefit of the lump sum education award to be paid against the student loan.