Frequently Asked Questions

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you work directly with communities around the world, help the communities improve their living conditions and solve some of their pressing issues. You can be a force for good in the world.

There are a wide variety of positions and different assignments. Your assignment is unique to your skills and the need of Volunteers. Here are the general categories Volunteers fall under:

Peace Corp FAQ
  • Education

Teach lessons that last a lifetime.

  • Youth in development

Empower the next generation of changemakers.

  • Health

Serve on the front line of global health

  • Community Economic Development

Harness 21st-century tools to help communities lift themselves.

  • Agriculture

Lead grassroots efforts to fight hunger in a changing world.

In 1960, the Senator John F. Kennedy encouraged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country and help people in developing countries for two years. After 11,000 applications and a year later, the first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Accra, Ghana to serve as teachers. The pilot program became an independent federal agency in 1981.

 

Some of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) include Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings; the former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala; the mother of former president Jimmy Carter, Lillian Gordy Carter; NASA astronaut, Joseph Acaba; journalist, Peter Hessler; and writers such as Mildred D. Taylor and Paul Theroux.

 

Today, more than 220,000 Americans have served in 140 host countries.

You can see updated information about the countries where Peace Corps Volunteers currently serve, openings for volunteers, and countries that have previously hosted volunteers here.

Applicants can apply to one country and work sector at a time, and have the option to select "Anywhere I Am Needed" and/or "Any Work Sector" as one (or more) of their choices. Applicants may reapply for future programs if they are not selected for their top choices. Peace Corps Volunteers come from all walks of life and have a broad range of skill sets and career priorities, but they all want to volunteer to serve others. Some potential Volunteers will be interested in a specific area of the world, others in a specific language, program, or sector area. No matter what your personal priority is, you can express your preference to the Peace Corps.

The traditional Peace Corps program is 27 months, with a variety of job assignments in more than 60 countries. Most Volunteer placements are in this program.

In addition, a special program, Peace Corps Response, places seasoned professionals with at least 10 years of proven work experience, and/or returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have successfully completed their service. Response assignments are highly technical, and are shorter-term placements—three months to one year—in specific countries.

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Language requirements are dependent upon the needs of a particular program. Each job opportunity listed on our Volunteer Openings page will indicate if there is a language requirement.

Yes. The Peace Corps places committed couples, but please be aware that the opportunities for couples are more limited than those for individual applicants. Both you and your partner must apply at the same time and qualify for assignments in the same country. The Peace Corps' experience is that couples who have been in a committed relationship for at least a year before they begin service are better able to adapt to the challenges of the Peace Corps. Learn more about serving in the Peace Corps as a same-sex couple in the "Couples" FAQ section.

Friends who are not a couple and who wish to apply to Peace Corps at the same time must individually qualify for Peace Corps service. The Peace Corps cannot guarantee that such individuals will be assigned to the same program or country.

You or your Power of Attorney are completely responsible for your loans. All matters of deferment, payment, reactivation, and cancellation of loans are your responsibility. Volunteers may defer repayment on certain student loans under several federal programs, i.e., Stafford (formerly known as guaranteed student loans), Perkins, direct, and consolidation loans. Volunteers who have Perkins loans and follow their lender's guidelines may qualify for a 15 percent loan cancellation for each of their first two years of service and a 20 percent loan cancellation for their third and fourth years of service, for a possible total of 70% cancellation after 4 years of service. Volunteer service is considered “qualifying employment” for the Dept of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. See Peace Corps and Repayment of Your Federal Student Loans (PDF) Because the rules that authorize deferment, cancellation and forgiveness are complicated and subject to change, it is best to talk to your lender directly about how this benefit applies to your situation. For general information on student loan benefits, please visit student loan types, student loan instructions and student loan deferment FAQ. If you have a private loan, you will need to contact your loan servicer to see if they provide any student loan relief for Peace Corps Volunteer service.

Additionally, volunteers may allot a portion of their readjustment allowance to go towards paying their student loans while in service. Up to $206.25 each month could be allotted to direct payments to your lender. You would be eligible for this benefit once you have been sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

There are no application fees to apply to the Peace Corps, and there are no fees associated with visas, passports, or plane tickets for candidates invited to serve.

However, the Peace Corps does require medical screening which is the financial responsibility of the applicant. Some applicants undergo medical screening before being invited to serve, and all applicants undergo medical screening after receiving a formal invitation to serve. The Peace Corps provides modest cost sharing for some medical screening expenses incurred after candidates accept an invitation. More information about cost sharing is given to applicants at the time of invitation.

Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience you will draw upon throughout your life. The most significant accomplishment will be the contribution you make to improve the lives of others. There are also tangible benefits, including the following Peace Corps provisions:

  • Certain public student loans may be eligible for deferment or for Public Service Loan Forgiveness by your lender
  • Perkins loans may be eligible for partial cancellation by your lender
  • A "readjustment" allowance of more than $8,000 (pre-tax) upon completion of service
  • Language, cross-cultural, and technical training
  • Travel to and from country of service
  • A monthly living and housing allowance
  • Full medical and dental coverage
  • 48 paid vacation days
  • Unique graduate school opportunities
  • Leave for family emergencies
  • Transition and job support and social networking after service
  • Advantages in federal employment
  • Opportunities for short-term assignments through Peace Corps Response
  • No fee to participate

Learn more about the benefits before, during, and after service here: Benefits

Still have questions? Talk to the UT Peace Corps Recruiter or check out http://www.peacecorps.gov.