VISTA members serve for a limited time, so planning for their departure is important for them, the project, and the community.
This section provides a number of resources to use before, during, and after a VISTA member’s transition to support them and to ensure the capacity they have built is sustained.
The departure of a VISTA member represents a critical juncture for the project, as the assignment will either transition to a new VISTA member or draw to a close. Work with your CNCS State Office on how to plan for project transition and sustainability.
The best supervisors and project directors act as mentors and advocates as their VISTA members approach the ends of their service terms and plan their next steps.
Sponsors can support a successful transition out of service for VISTAs by:
- Asking VISTA members about their goals for after their service term and how the supervisor can support them
- Encouraging VISTAs to start planning three months before their end dates, if they haven’t already
- Showing flexibility as members take leave time to plan for their next steps, including interviewing or visiting schools
- Promoting resources for VISTA members, such as the Life after VISTA Guide, VISTA Campus Job Board, non-competitive eligibility for federal employment, AmeriCorps Alums, USA Jobs AmeriCorps VISTA Search Track, and Employers of National Service
- Asking VISTA members to reflect on their experiences as VISTA members, as well as how the sponsor can support strong service experiences in the future
- Recognizing them and thank them for dedicating their term to the community, privately and/or publicly
See VISTA Campus – Transitioning for resources on this topic.
Exiting Members from Service via the Future Plans Form
The FPF in the Portal is a critical administrative requirement at the end of the service term. It is the mechanism by which VISTA members select their end-of-service action (regular exit, extension, reenrollment, or early exit). The sponsor plays an active role in ensuring each VISTA member submits a FPF at least 45 days prior to the end of the VISTA member’s service, and the sponsor also submits a performance evaluation and action recommendation.
The available end-of-service actions and description are provided below.
The majority of VISTA members end their service as scheduled, following a full year of service. This is a regular exit.
A reenrollment occurs when a VISTA member will continue with the VISTA program for another one-year term without a break in service. Reenrollments are contingent on a sponsor’s recommendation to CNCS that the VISTA member serve on a project, whether the same project or a different project, and CNCS State Office approval. Sponsors are encouraged to ensure VISTA member performance is thoroughly documented in project materials, including both PPRs and FPF, to facilitate CNCS State Office approval. VISTA members who have attended a VISTA Orientation (i.e., VMO or previously Pre-Service Orientation) within the last five years are not required to attend again. VISTA members are only able to serve a total of five full-year service terms. If the VISTA reenrolls with the same project without a break in service, they are entitled to unused personal leave and medical leave earned in the prior year of service.
An extension to a VISTA member’s one-year term supports the project’s capacity development. It can provide additional time to transfer a project or function successfully, or to complete a project that would be inappropriate or impractical to turn over to another VISTA member. Extensions can last from two weeks to six months and are subject to approval by the CNCS State Office. During an extension, the VISTA member carries over the same health benefit from the original term of service. They receive a pro-rated cash stipend as an additional end-of-service benefit for their extension and may take up to one day of personal leave and one day of medical leave per 30 additional days of service. If the VISTA extends service with the same project without a break in service, they are entitled to unused personal leave earned in the original term of service. For any VISTA member who extends their service, two FPFs will need to be completed, one leading up to the scheduled end date and a second leading up to the extension end date.
Early terminations are time-sensitive and handled on a case-by-case basis. See the section on Challenges with Members for information on the circumstances that can lead to an early exit and how to proceed.
Deferral of service is exceptionally rare and handled on a case-by-case basis for military reserve leave or jury duty leave lasting more than 30 days. Deferred VISTAs may be reinstated within six months without resubmitting an application and attending VISTA Orientation. For more information on deferral, see the VISTA Member Handbook – Administrative Policies.
Future Plans Form (FPF) Submission
Timely submission of Future Plans Form (FPF) is essential for ensuring that VISTA members get access to their end-of-service benefits, including education awards, service verification letters, and travel reimbursements. It also ensures that living allowances are accurately paid.
This is the standard timeline for most exits:
- Each VISTA member receives an automated email 90 days from their scheduled end date asking them to complete their section of their FPF, Part A. They are expected to submit this at least 60 days before their scheduled end date.
- After the VISTA member submits Part A, the sponsor must submit Part B, the performance evaluation and action recommendation. They are expected to submit this at least 45 days before the scheduled end date.
- After the sponsor has completed and certified the FPF, the VISTA member will have the opportunity to review their evaluation and recommendation, and enter a comment on it if they wish.
- After the sponsor submits Part B and the VISTA member reviews it, the CNCS State Office completes Part C to approve the VISTA member and sponsor selections. They do this at least 14 days before the scheduled end date.
- After the CNCS State Office submits Part C, the VISTA Member Support Unit processes the end of service action. This happens on or shortly after the VISTA member’s approved end date and opens access to the VISTA member’s end-of-service benefits.
- If five days have passed since the VISTA member’s end date and they do not have access to their end-of-service benefits yet, they should contact the VMSU.