END OF SERVICE
Just as you spent time preparing to begin your term of AmeriCorps VISTA service, it is equally important for you to prepare for the conclusion of service. Whatever you choose to do after your AmeriCorps VISTA service, you should start planning at least three months before your end-of-service date. Make sure you complete all your paperwork well before your end-of-service date and inform your supervisor and sponsoring organization of your departure date, contact details, and any other information needed for you, the sponsoring organization, and the CNCS State Office to make your end of service as smooth as possible.
Item or Activity
90 days before your end-of-service date
|By the last day of your 10th month||my.americorps.gov|
|At least 60 days before your end-of-service date||my.americorps.gov|
At least 45 days before your end-of-service date
Last four weeks
|Within two weeks after completion of service (if not sooner)||VISTA Member Support Unit|
|After completion of service|
|Healthcare Marketplace – 1-888-318-2956|
PREPARING FOR END-OF-SERVICE
In order to have a successful end of service, please pay careful attention to the following items which are also outlined in the checklist above.
FUTURE PLANS FORM
At least 60 days before your end-of-service date, you will need to complete the AmeriCorps VISTA Future Plans or Early Termination Request Form (Future Plans Form). This form is on your member homepage in my.americorps.gov under "Close-of-Service". It asks whether you wish to:
- Complete service as scheduled
- Extend my service for less than one year
- Extensions are for no less than two weeks and no more than six months. Please note, the only end-of-service benefit available during an extension is the cash stipend.
- Reenroll for an additional year, which means you would continue service for one year at the same project or at a different project (re-enrollment)
- Terminate my service early
Your Future Plans Form becomes available on your my.americorps.gov homepage 90 days before your end-of-service date. You must complete this form at least 60 days before your end-of-service date. The sponsoring organization or supervisor will then complete the evaluation section and submit the form to the CNCS State Office. You are entitled to review the evaluation section before it is sent to the CNCS State Office.
After you complete the Future Plans Form, your project supervisor will fill out the Performance Evaluation section. Follow up to make sure your supervisor has completed the form at least 45 days before your end-of-service date. Even members who choose to end service early must complete the Future Plans Form.
The CNCS State Office is responsible for determining whether you have successfully completed a term of service and are eligible for an education award. Once the State Office indicates your eligibility by certifying the Future Plans Form and the VISTA Member Support Unit processes the form, you will have access to an end-of-service award.
EVALUATION OF YOUR SERVICE
The Future Plans Form requires the sponsoring organization to evaluate the performance of members approaching the end of their term of service or requesting a reenrollment or extension of service. You are entitled to review the evaluation section before it is sent to the CNCS State Office. During this time you should also arrange an exit interview with your supervisor to summarize the work you have done and to talk through and agree with your evaluation. The exit interview is also an opportunity for you to give feedback, to discuss your future plans, and to finalize your arrangements for leaving. If you request to reenroll or extend, refer to the section on Additional AmeriCorps VISTA Service.
CLOSE OF SERVICE TRAVEL ASSISTANCE
VISTA candidates approved to relocate at the beginning of service are eligible to receive a Close of Service Travel Allowance when they finish service. The allowance is intended to help offset the cost of returning home from the service site. The Close of Service mileage is calculated using the same points of travel from the start of service. The rate, established by the VISTA program, is based on the mileage between the ZIP code of the service site and the ZIP code of the approved home of record.
Travel reimbursement vouchers will be posted in my.americorps.gov no later than fifteen days prior to your end-of-service date. You will need to return the signed vouchers to the VISTA Member Support Unit to receive your travel payment reimbursement. The signed vouchers should be sent to:
Corporation for National and Community Service
250 E Street SW
Suite 4300, Mailroom
Washington, DC 20525
250 E Street SW
Suite 4300, Mailroom
Washington, DC 20525
The travel payment, made by direct deposit, will arrive eight weeks after the VISTA Member Support Unit receives your signed voucher. If you waived payment by direct deposit, a paper check will be mailed to the permanent address listed in your my.americorps.gov account. Vouchers must be returned to the VMSU within two weeks after completion of service. If you fail to sign and return the close of service voucher within this time, payment may be delayed.
HOME OF RECORD
The approved home of record is the location approved at the start of service. The home of record is either:
- The legal residence of your parent(s) or legal guardian if you had been residing with your parent(s) or legal guardian immediately prior to entering AmeriCorps VISTA service, or if you were a full-time student whose permanent residence was with your parent(s) or legal guardian, or
- The residence established by you:
1. While attending college immediately prior to entering AmeriCorps VISTA service
2. While employed immediately prior to entering AmeriCorps VISTA service
3. For purposes of voting or payment of state taxes
Modification of the home of record can be authorized prior to the tenth month of service, at the discretion of the Director of the VISTA Member Support Unit, if one of the following conditions exists:
- You designated the official home of record as the legal residence of a parent or legal guardian, and the parent or legal guardian has established a new residence (if the new residence is outside the United States, CNCS will provide close of service assistance to the nearest port of exit).
- You designated the official home of record as the legal residence of a parent or legal guardian, and the parent or legal guardian has died. CNCS will provide close of service assistance to the legal residence of the surviving parent or legal guardian, or next of kin (if the new residence is outside the United States, CNCS will provide close of service assistance to the nearest port of exit).
- You have married and request close of service assistance to the home of record of your spouse.
- Close of service assistance to the new home of record is more economical to the United States government than the original home of record.
Requests to modify the home of record must be submitted in writing to the Director of the VISTA Member Support Unit via the National Service Hotline. Requests received after the end of the tenth month of service will not be considered.
BREAKS IN SERVICE
If you serve an additional year at the same site, you will not be reimbursed for travel to your home of record until the end of your final year of service, regardless of whether or not there is a break in service. Please see "Additional AmeriCorps VISTA Service" for more details.
If you serve an additional year with a break in service of more than 14 days from the completion of your previous term of service, and must relocate 50 miles or more to a different project or site location, you may be eligible to be reimbursed to travel to your home of record between service terms.
If you serve an additional year within 14 days of completing your original term of service, and relocate 50 miles or more to a different service site, you will receive a Relocation Travel Allowance for the mileage from your current site to your new site. See Chapter 7 for an explanation of the Relocation Travel Allowance. You will receive Close of Service Travel Assistance at the end of the final year of service to your approved Home of Record.
If you elected to receive the end-of-service stipend, you automatically receive the payment with your last two living allowance payments, provided you complete your term of service as scheduled and your end-of-service documents are submitted to the CNCS State Office. You will receive approximately $400 of the end-of-stipend with your second to last living allowance payment; the remaining balance is disbursed with your last living allowance payment. Federal income tax and Social Security (FICA) deductions are withheld from the stipend at the time of payment.
SEGAL AMERICORPS EDUCATION AWARD
If you elected to receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, the award becomes available for your use after you successfully complete service. The value of the award is tied to the maximum Pell Grant level during the fiscal year in which you served. (See Chapter 6 for detailed information on the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.)
PROCESS FOR ACCESSING EDUCATION AWARD
Your my.americorps.gov account allows you the ability to make payments to lenders and higher education institutions. To access your award, click on the “My Education Award” link in your my.americorps.gov account. The VISTA Campus provides a course on how to use your education award effectively.
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award must be used within seven years of the date you finish your service, unless you apply for and receive an extension prior to the end of your seventh year in accordance with 45 CFR §2526. If you have questions about your education award, you should contact the National Service Hotline at 800-942-2677, or visit the National Service Hotline website, click on the "Ask a Question" tab, complete the help request form, and submit.
ADDITIONAL AMERICORPS VISTA SERVICE
At the discretion of CNCS, you may be afforded the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member beyond the initial year of enrollment.
Additional service is predicated on a clear indication that you will continue to provide a substantial contribution to the program. Approval is required for all continuations of service following endorsement by the sponsoring organization. VISTA members are limited to five years of service.
In the tenth month of service, you receive the Future Plans Form, which asks whether you wish to complete service as scheduled or to reenroll or extend. In approving a request for continuation of service, your performance, as evaluated by the project supervisor and the CNCS State Program Director, along with your skills and experience, are considered. Continuation of service is also subject to the availability of an appropriate assignment and to the availability of funds for member support.
To request continuation of service, you must complete the Future Plans Form at least 90 days before your scheduled end-of-service date. (This form is on your member homepage in my.americorps.gov under “Close-of-Service”.)
AmeriCorps VISTA will notify you and the sponsoring organization whether the request for continuation of service was approved at least four weeks before the end of service. The early termination provisions and volunteer grievance procedures do not apply to continuation of service denials.
RESTRICTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
If there is a break of more than 120 days between service years, you are again subject to VISTAs criminal history check. The background check entails a search of the National Sex Offenders Public Registry, full disclosure of convictions, and an FBI criminal history check, which requires you to submit fingerprints. The VISTA program will provide a fingerprint subsidy. For questions, please contact your CNCS State Office.
LIFE AFTER AMERICORPS VISTA
CERTIFICATION OF SERVICE
When you have completed service, log onto my.americorps.gov to print a letter of AmeriCorps VISTA Verification of Service. This letter serves as proof of your AmeriCorps VISTA service and includes your dates of service. Click the “My Service Letters” link to create and print your letter. If your letter is incorrect or if the system is unable to locate your record, please contact the National Service Hotline at https://questions.nationalservice.gov/.
VISTA encourages you to stay in touch with our program and become involved with the national AmeriCorps Alumni Network after you complete your year of service. As an alum, you can help recruit new VISTA members, share your story of service, and continue to serve. For information and services that help you stay involved with the AmeriCorps community, visit the Alumni Page of the VISTA Campus.
SERVICE AND YOUR CAREER
For many, VISTA service is the first step in a rewarding career in public service. Helping to address critical community needs can be inspiring. Putting your idealism, energy, and experience to work in a career that helps others can be the perfect way to incorporate your service into the rest of your life.
In a 2016 study conducted by CNCS on AmeriCorps Alumni outcomes, it was noted that a high percentage of AmeriCorps VISTA alumni benefitted both personally and professionally during their service. Of the over 3,000 respondents surveyed in 2016:
- 46% of AmeriCorps VISTA alumni who were employed within six months of ending service attributed their employment to a connection made while serving as a VISTA.
- About 50% of AmeriCorps VISTA alumni indicated that their service opened up a career path they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
- 74% of AmeriCorps VISTA alumni agreed that their service was a professionally defining experience.
- 77% of AmeriCorps VISTA alumni agreed that their service was a personally defining experience.
In addition to the personal fulfillment gained during service, AmeriCorps VISTA offers some exceptional career benefits, such as Non-Competitive Eligibility for Federal Jobs, and graduate schools that match the Education Award. For more information on how to access these benefits visit the Preparing for Life after AmeriCorps VISTA section of the VISTA Campus.
VISTA CAMPUS JOB BOARD
When searching for jobs, be sure to access the free VISTA Campus Job Board. AmeriCorps VISTA regularly encourages employers from the federal, private, and public sectors to post job opportunities of particular interest to VISTA alumni skillsets. Check back frequently to view and apply to postings.
NON-COMPETITIVE ELIGIBILITY FOR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JOBS
One of the benefits of successfully completing your year of service as a VISTA is the option to use the Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) hiring status to help obtain federal employment. NCE does not guarantee you a federal position; you must locate an agency with a vacancy and interest in hiring you. The links below provide further guidance on how to access and use your NCE benefit. Note that AmeriCorps VISTA alums are the only AmeriCorps Alums to receive this benefit, which is good for one year starting from your end of service date. NCE can be extended for up to two more years past the expiration date by the hiring agency, under certain conditions as listed below.
- NCE is a special hiring appointment granted to AmeriCorps VISTA alumni in Executive Order No. 11103 (April 10, 1963). – Section 415(d), Title IV, of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, as amended.
- NCE permits (but does not require) a federal agency to noncompetitively hire an AmeriCorps VISTA alum who meets the minimum qualifications for the position.
- A hiring agency may extend the NCE period for two additional years if the VISTA alum, after the qualifying service, is:
- In the military;
- Studying at a recognized institution of higher learning; or
- Engaged in another activity which, in the hiring agency’s view, warrants extension.
- The use of NCE status is up to the federal hiring manager.
- VISTA alumni must use their Verification of VISTA Service letter available via my.americorps.gov as documentation for their NCE status.
EMPLOYERS OF NATIONAL SERVICE INITIATIVE
Launched in 2014, the purpose of the Employers of National Service (EONS) initiative is to create a talent pipeline connecting AmeriCorps and Peace Corps alumni with leading employers from the private, public and nonprofit sectors. To learn more about Employers of National Service and see a full list of participating employers, visit https://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/employers-national-service/search-network. Additional job-seeking resources can be found in the Alumni section of the National Service website, including: Understanding Benefits of Service, National Service Resume Basics, Creative Networking, Answering FAQs from Employers, and Employment and Alumni with Disabilities.
APPLYING VISTA SERVICE TOWARDS FEDERAL BENEFITS/RETIREMENT
AmeriCorps VISTA Alumni can count their service year(s) towards vacation accrual and retirement once employed with the federal government. VISTA alumni may make a FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) service credit deposit payment for any period of VISTA service (excluding training time), regardless of when the service was performed. Paying the service credit deposit will make this volunteer time creditable toward federal retirement. VISTA alumni who become federal employees must contact the Human Resources/Benefits personnel at their federal agency to initiate the deposit process and to make sure they are accruing vacation at the appropriate rate. Learn more about applying VISTA service towards federal benefits/retirement at the OPM website.