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Hillary Clinton announces plan to triple number of AmeriCorps service members

hillary3Democratic Party presidential nomination candidate Hillary Clinton is announcing a plan to allow students who pursue public service to graduate from an in-state public college without any debt. Building on her New College Compact, Clinton’s plan to build a new foundation for national service centers on expanding AmeriCorps, as well as increasing its education awards to AmeriCorps service members.

Clinton’s plan:

  • Pledges to more than triple the number of AmeriCorps service members to 250,000 service members.This increase in enrollment would allow more than 150,000 new members to serve their country every year. Currently, even as more than half a million Americans apply each year, the number of service members still hovers just above 75,000.
  • Raises the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for any service member who completes two years of full-time AmeriCorps service and works for a year in public service to more than $23,000.This doubles the current maximum award of $11,550. Combined with other provisions in the New College Compact, this ensures that students who serve their country can graduate from an in-state public college without any debt.
  • Makes the Segal AmeriCorps Education awards tax-free.Right now, they are considered taxable income, even though they can only be used for educational expenses. Clinton believes they should be treated just like Pell Grants in the tax code.

“Young people willing to commit to public service deserve to live free from the crushing burden of student debt,” said Hillary Clinton. “In the same way we provided for our returning veterans with the GI Bill, we must commit to those who serve our communities at home. By increasing participation in AmeriCorps, we can attract more young people to community building and enable them to do this work without the stress of paying off their college loans.”

Clinton’s plan honors the bipartisan Edward Kennedy Serve America Act, which was designed to expand the number of AmeriCorps service members to 250,000 by 2017 but has stalled in achieving that goal due to Congress not providing adequate funding.

“Hillary Clinton gets it,” says former AmeriCorps service member Kendall Cloeter, of Roanoke, Va., in a Medium post telling her story. “And with her plan, more young people like me could graduate from school with AmeriCorps as an accessible path toward making an impact in their community – and doing it without debt holding them back.”

Expanding AmeriCorps will cost in the range of $20 billion in the next ten years and is fully paid for by the means laid out in the New College Compact.

Read a fact sheet on Clinton’s plan to expand national service on The Briefing here.