Are you thinking about joining the Peace Corps? That’s great! It is an exciting and unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and support local communities abroad. There are probably a lot of questions buzzing through your head right now. Thus, we provided a top 10 of prospective Peace Corps FAQs. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kamaka Dias (Madagascar 2016-2018) or Kristina Estrada (Paraguay 2018-2020). You can reach the UH Mānoa Peace Corps Recruiters at email@example.com!
Frequently Asked Questions
1) I hear it's hard to get into the Peace Corps. Is that true? How competitive is it?
When evaluating an applicant, the Peace Corps considers the “whole person” including your life experiences, community involvement, volunteer work, motivations, and even your hobbies. In most cases, applicants with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, strong motivation and a commitment to Peace Corps service will be competitive.
Good to know: Applicants who connect with a recruiter are 55% more likely to become Volunteers.
2) Can I choose the country where I'll serve, and how long is a Peace Corps assignment?
For the first time in the history of the Peace Corps, applicants can now choose where they serve and what project they will be serving in. Browse specific Volunteer Openings, or apply to serve Where You Are Needed Most. Peace Corps assignments are for two years plus three months of training in your country of service.
3) Do I need to speak another language?
The Peace Corps teaches more than 180 languages and dialects. During your pre-service training, you will receive intensive language instruction to prepare you for living and working in your overseas community. While some countries where Volunteers serve prefer people who have studied French or Spanish, it is not always a requirement. Search the Volunteer Openings page for specific requirements!
4) I have student loans. Can they be deferred while I serve in the Peace Corps?
In general, while you are a Volunteer, you may defer repayment of your Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Federal Consolidation Loans, or Direct Loans. The Peace Corps does not grant deferments, cancellations or grace periods for government or private loans. You must obtain these from lending institution. Learn more about student loan information.
5) Are there any costs to joining the Peace Corps? How much will I get paid?
Peace Corps pays for all volunteer expenses including travel to and from your country of service, housing, a stipend for food and incidentals, and comprehensive medical and dental care. Each Volunteer also accrues a readjustment allowance during each month of service and currently a total of $10,000 accrues is awarded to each Volunteer upon completion of their service.
While the amount of volunteer stipends vary from country to country, you will receive an amount that allows you to live at the same level as the people you serve in your community. Your personal expenses – souvenirs and vacation travel – will be your responsibility.
6) Do I get vacation time? Can I come home for a visit? Can family or friends visit me?
The Peace Corps provides two vacation days for every month of service for a total of 48 vacation days in 2 years. You may wish to travel home for a visit, or your family and friends can make the trip to see you in your overseas community. Visiting a Peace Corps Volunteer is one of the most exciting ways to see and learn about another country’s people, culture and traditions. Please keep in mind, that the cost of your vacation travel – home or elsewhere – is your responsibility.
7) What kind of job placement/graduate school assistance does Peace Corps provide?
Returned Volunteers have non-competitive eligibility status for appointments to U.S government executive branch agencies for a period of one year after they completion of their service. Volunteers interested in graduate school after service can find additional financial assistance through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program.
Additionally, the Peace Corps’ Returned Volunteer Services publishes a bimonthly job bulletin and career manuals and provides self-assessment tools to help returned Volunteers explore career options.
8) I'm worried about my safety overseas. How can I find out more about risks and crime in countries where Volunteers serve?
The Peace Corps takes Volunteer safety and security very seriously and every single Volunteer receives extensive training to reduce risks as much as possible. To find out more about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety, check out the Health & Safety section of the website, read Peace Corps’ Annual Statistical Report of Crimes Against Volunteers, or review country-specific sections on preparing to volunteer.
9) Will I be the only Peace Corps Volunteer in my community?
Every Volunteer's experience is unique. Some Volunteers are placed in rural communities, hours or even days away from the nearest Peace Corps Volunteer. Others live in bustling towns or large cities, where the nearest Volunteer lives down the street or even in the same apartment building. Serving in the Peace Corps requires flexibility and independence. So be prepared to live alone, with another Volunteer, or a host family.
10) How can I contact current or recently returned Volunteers to ask them about their experiences?
There are many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers at UH Mānoa including your campus recruiters. They will also be able to connect you with volunteers with experiences serving as a couple (domestic partnership or married), serving as minority, LGBTQ+, Kanaka Maoli, as well as sector-specific volunteers. Additionally, you can find volunteer stories on the Peace Corps website or the Returned Member Spotlight tab.