Chapter 11: End-of-Service

 

END-OF-SERVICE

81.jpgA smooth conclusion to your AmeriCorps VISTA experience is highly desired by both the Corporation for National and Community Service and your project site. 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, travel arrangements, contact details, and any other information needed for you, the sponsoring organization, and the Corporation State Office to make your return home as smooth as possible.

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END-OF-SERVICE CHECKLIST

Due Date
To Whom
Item or Activity
90 days before your end-of-service date
 

My AmeriCorps Website

 

1. AmeriCorps VISTA Member Future Plans or Early Termination Request Form

  • Complete Part A
  • Your supervisor will complete Part B—Performance Evaluation
  • Participate in exit interview and evaluation of your performance with your supervisor
  • Make sure you and your supervisor certifies the form
90 days before your end-of-service date
 

VMSU via the National Service Hotline 1-800-942-2677 or nationalservice.gov/questions

 

Submit any request to change your home of record (changes submitted less than 60 days prior to your end-of-service date may not be considered) All requests must be approved by the Director of VISTA Member Support Unit (VMSU) .

Last three weeks
My AmeriCorps Website
  • Make sure your supervisor completed your Future Plans Form in the My AmeriCorps portal.
  • Update your forwarding mailing address in My AmeriCorps.
Member
  • If you elected to receive the end-of-service stipend, you will receive $400 of your accrued stipend (minus federal income tax deduction) in your living allowance payment for the next-to-the-last full pay period
Within 30 days after completion of serviceVISTA Member Support Unit
  • Submit your Volunteer Payment Voucher for the Relocation Travel Allowance Close of Service Travel Reimbursement (if your home of record is at least 50 miles from project site). Payment of all travel reimbursements takes up to 8 weeks from the time the voucher is received at the VISTA Member Support Unit.
After completion of serviceMy AmeriCorps Website
  • Generate your Certification of Service letter
  • Generate your Non-Competitive Eligibility letter
VISTA Campus
  • Visit the Alumni page to view job postings, submit your story of service, and stay in touch
AmeriCorps Alums
  • Join an AmeriCorps Alums chapter
  • Learn about discounts and matching education award scholarships
Healthcare Marketplace – 1-888-318-2956
  • If you have insurance through the Marketplace and your income changes, you’ll want to have your subsidy adjusted so you don’t end up receiving too much subsidy (and then have to pay it back at tax time).
  • If you are currently in the VISTA Health Benefits Plan and want to purchase health insurance through the Marketplace, you have 60 days after close of service to do so. Refer to the VISTA Healthcare FAQs for more information on this special enrollment period.

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PREPARING FOR END-OF-SERVICE

The AmeriCorps VISTA program is not only about service. It is also about developing and supporting members in their goals and aspirations for life after AmeriCorps. Perhaps the AmeriCorps VISTA experience has changed your life to such an extent that picking up where you left off is no longer a viable option. Your sponsoring organization and the Corporation can help if you decide to research a new direction.

FUTURE PLANS FORM

In the tenth month of service, you will need to complete the AmeriCorps VISTA Future Plans or Early Termination Request Form. This form is on your member homepage in the My AmeriCorps portal under "Close-of-Service". It asks whether you wish to:

  • Complete service as scheduled
  • Continue service for less than one year at the same project (extension). 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.
  • Continue service for one year at the same project or at a different project (re-enrollment)

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 45 days before your end-of-service date. Even members who choose to end service early must complete the Future Plans Form.

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 Corporation 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.

TRAVEL PAYMENT

VISTA candidates approved to relocate to serve are eligible to receive a Relocation Travel Allowance at the close of service. The allowance is intended to offset the cost of returning home and shipment of personal effects between the service site and the approved home of record. The rate, established by the federal government and the VISTA program, is based on the mileage between the site and the approved home of record. The Relocation Travel Allowance may not to exceed $1,000.

Travel reimbursement vouchers will be posted in the My AmeriCorps Portal 45 no later than 15 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:

Close of Service
VISTA Member Support Unit
300 E. 8th Street, Suite G-169
Austin, TX 78701

The travel payment, made by direct deposit, will arrive 6-8 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 account. If you fail to sign and return the termination voucher within 30 days after completion of service, 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, the Corporation will provide transportation to the nearest port of exit).
  • The parent or legal guardian has died. The Corporation will transport you to the legal residence of your surviving parent or legal guardian, then to the next of kin. Transportation will be limited to a location within the United States.
  • You have married and request travel to the home of record of your spouse.
  • Travel 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 may not be considered.

BREAKS IN SERVICE

If you serve an additional year and have a break in service, you will not be reimbursed for travel to your home of record until the end of your final year of service. The VISTA program cannot reimburse travel home between service years. Please see "Additional AmeriCorps VISTA Service" for more details.

If you serve an additional year and must relocate 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.

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END-OF-SERVICE STIPEND

The end-of-service stipend is a post-service readjustment allowance intended to offset expenses after members complete their period of service. If you select the 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 Corporation 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.

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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

First, you must complete a Future Plans Form on your My AmeriCorps homepage at least 45 days before your end-of-service date. This form will be available during your tenth month of service. The sponsoring organization or supervisor will then complete the evaluation section and submit the form to the Corporation State Office. You are entitled to review the evaluation section before it is sent to the Corporation State Office.

The Corporation 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 your Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

Your My AmeriCorps 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 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, and complete the help request form and submit.

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ADDITIONAL AMERICORPS VISTA SERVICE

At the discretion of the Corporation, you may be afforded the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member beyond the initial year of enrollment. Although you have no entitlement to another term of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, you are strongly encouraged to consider a second term of service.

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. The Domestic Volunteer Service Act limits AmeriCorps VISTA members to five terms 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 Corporation State 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 six weeks before your scheduled end-of-service date. (This form is on your member homepage in My AmeriCorps under “Close-of-Service”.) Otherwise, the usual process to terminate allowances will go into effect.

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 (see Appendix C).

RESTRICTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS

If you serve an additional year or years, you will not be reimbursed for travel to your home of record until the end of your final year of service. The VISTA program cannot reimburse travel home between service years.

If there is a break of more than 60 days between service years, you are subject to VISTAs criminal history check. The background check entails a search of the National Sex Offenders Public Registry and an FBI criminal history check, which requires you to submit fingerprints. The VISTA program is not responsible for any incurred costs. For questions, please contact your Corporation State Office.

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LIFE AFTER AMERICORPS VISTA

CERTIFICATION OF SERVICE

When you have completed service, log onto the My AmeriCorps portal to print a letter of AmeriCorps VISTA certification. This letter serves as proof of your AmeriCorps VISTA service and includes your dates of service. Click the “My Service Letter” link to create and print your letter. If your letter is incorrect or the portal cannot locate your record, please contact the National Service Hotline at https://questions.nationalservice.gov/.

STAYING INVOLVED

AmeriCorps VISTA encourages you to stay in touch with our program and become involved with the Alumni Network after you complete your year of service. As an alumnus/alumna, you can help recruit new AmeriCorps VISTA members, share your story of service, house current members, and develop new initiatives. You can also stay involved with AmeriCorps VISTA by connecting with other members and alumni through the AmeriCorps online community. For information and services that help you stay involved with the AmeriCorps community, visit the VISTA Campus and go to the Alumni page.

SERVICE AND YOUR CAREER

For many, AmeriCorps VISTA service is the first step in a rewarding career in public service. Helping to address critical community needs can be inspiring-and the needs never go away. 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.

For more information, visit the Preparing for Life After AmeriCorps VISTA section of the Campus.

Non-Competitive Eligibility for Federal Government Service

If you served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, your experience may help you get hired by the federal government. After you satisfactorily complete a full year of service, you earn non-competitive eligibility for federal jobs for one year.

This one year of non-competitive eligibility begins the first day after you complete your full year of service. Non-competitive eligibility does not mean that you are guaranteed a federal civil service job. You must locate an agency with a vacancy and interest that agency in hiring you. This benefit does not apply for other AmeriCorps programs.

To establish your non-competitive status, you will need proof of eligibility. Once you have completed service, log onto the My AmeriCorps portal to print an AmeriCorps VISTA certification letter. Click the “My Service Letter” link to create and print your letter. If your letter is incorrect or the portal cannot locate your record, please contact the National Service Hotline at https://questions.nationalservice.gov/ or at 800-942-2677.

Submit copies of this statement with your federal job applications. Information on federal positions can be obtained from USAJOBS, the federal government's one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information.

For more information about non-competitive eligibility, visit the NCE Tutorial.

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