I'm Thinking About Applying
Can I choose the country I most want to serve in?
Applicants can apply to up to three specific countries and programs at a time, and have the option to select "Send me where I'm most needed" 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.
How long do Volunteers serve? Are shorter assignments available?
The traditional Peace Corps program is 27 months, with a variety of job assignments in over 65 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.
Learn more about Peace Corps Response
Do I need to speak a foreign language?
No. Knowledge of a foreign language is not a requirement for service, as the Peace Corps provides language training. However, knowledge of French or Spanish will help you qualify for programs in certain regions.
Do I need a college degree?
Opportunities are available for those with a combination of relative job experience and education, though most opportunities require a four-year degree.
Do I get paid?
The Peace Corps provides Volunteers with a living allowance that enables them to live in a manner similar to the local people in their community. The Peace Corps also provides complete medical and dental care and covers the cost of transportation to and from your country of service. To assist with the transition back home, Volunteers starting service after October 1, 2014 are paid $8,775 (before taxes) at the close of 27 months of service. The money is yours to use as you wish: for travel, moving expenses, securing housing, or any other use.
Is there an age limit to serving in the Peace Corps?
No, there is no age limit, though Volunteers must be a minimum 18 years of age to serve. Peace Corps Volunteers range in age from college students to retirees and come from all walks of life.
What about my student loans?
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.
Will I be serving in my Peace Corps community alone?
While arrangements vary by geographical location, Volunteers should expect to live on their own and work independently. Typically, there are many opportunities to see other nearby Volunteers during weekends, holidays, and for training sessions and collaborative projects.
Can I serve with my spouse/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?
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.
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.
Does the Peace Corps accept openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer applicants?
Yes. For more information about serving as an LGBTQ Volunteer, please read the LGBTQ FAQs (PDF).
Can same-sex couples serve together in the Peace Corps?
Yes. Learn more about serving in the Peace Corps as a same-sex couple in the "Couples" FAQ section.
I'm in a significant relationship. What should I consider in preparation for possibly serving?
To help educate and prepare yourself for the challenges unique to Peace Corps service, we suggest you read Romantic Involvement FAQs (PDF).
What documents do transgender individuals need to provide to be considered for placement in the Peace Corps?
Transgender applicants are required to provide 1) a Social Security card and 2) a passport or birth certificate. If your documents have not been updated with your new gender, you will need to submit a physician’s certificate for your passport application validating whether your gender transition is in process or complete.
Additional information about requirements for transgender applicants for U.S. passports is here:
What medical considerations might impact my placement?
Peace Corps Volunteers serve around the world in physically and mentally challenging environments where medical resources and local transportation services may vary significantly from those in the U.S. The Peace Corps is responsible for providing necessary and appropriate health care to all Peace Corps Volunteers with available medical resources. Volunteers can only serve in programs and countries that can support their medical needs. Many health conditions that are easily managed in the U.S. due to access and availability of care present serious health risks in the countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve. Individual health care considerations that can impact placement include medications needed, life-threatening allergies, and personal health histories that require medical sub-specialists.
I'm a vegetarian or have other non-medical dietary restrictions. What potential impact could service have on my diet?
To help educate and prepare yourself for the challenges unique to Peace Corps service, we suggest you read Dietary Restrictions FAQs (PDF).
How can I contact currently serving or recently returned Volunteers to ask them about their experiences?
Many Volunteers keep blogs while serving, and you can find many examples searching online for "Peace Corps blogs."
To connect with a returned Volunteer, contact your local recruitment office and speak with a recruiter. As almost all recruiters are returned Volunteers, they can talk with you about their personal experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer or put in you touch with a returned Volunteer who lives in your region.
Are there any costs associated with applying to the Peace Corps?
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.
When should I notify my references/recommenders that I am applying to the Peace Corps?
You should notify your references when you submit your application, because you cannot begin Peace Corps service without two references. However, reference requests are only sent to recommenders of applicants who have passed the initial screening, which typically occurs a few weeks after you have submitted your completed application. Those recommenders will receive an email containing a link to the requested reference form. We suggest that you encourage your references to respond within two weeks of receiving the reference request.
Last updated May 06 2015