3 benefits of federal employment for RPCVs
You may know about the benefit of noncompetitive eligibility as an added boost in getting a federal government job, but did you know that there are other benefits when you become a federal employee after Volunteer service?
More Vacation Time
Although Volunteer service is not considered federal employment, your service can be credited towards certain federal employee benefits. You can increase your federal government annual leave by adding your two years of volunteer service. With your first job as a federal employee, you earn four hours of annual leave for each pay period. After three years of federal employment, you earn six hours of annual leave. Any Peace Corps Volunteer service (not including training) counts towards that federal service employment time. So, let's say you served as a Volunteer for two years – you would be earning two more hours of vacation time after just one year of federal employment instead of after three years of federal employment.
More Retirement Money
You may think it's a bit on the early side to think about retirement, but you can “buy back” your Volunteer service time towards retirement credit. Making a service credit payment is a step in this process since no money is taken out for a federal or civil service retirement system when you’re a Volunteer. It’s better to “buy back” retirement credit sooner rather than later. Interest starts to accrue on the deposit you need to make for this retirement credit after two years of being a federal employee.
Why should you make a deposit? To get a monthly annuity from the federal government, you must be vested in a retirement system. Federal and civil service retirement systems require five years of creditable service. Additional years of service – such as Peace Corps Volunteer service – will increase the amount of your annuity. You can see an example of how much more money here. Most federal employees, as well as teachers or state government employees, may be able to “buy back” service towards retirement. Visit here and contact your human resources department for details. You’ll most likely need to give HR proof of Volunteer service. Send an email to [email protected] and complete and return the Certification Request Form (attached to the automatic response) to request a Peace Corps certification to send to your HR department.
More Time Towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Peace Corps Volunteer service and working at a government organization count as qualifying employment for the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Peace Corps Volunteer service may add up to 27 payments (if you sign up at the beginning of service) to the 120 qualifying payments (on a qualifying repayment plan for eligible loans) needed for this loan forgiveness program. Working for the government, whether at the local, state or federal level, can add more time needed to reach the 120 payments needed for loan forgiveness. Employment at a 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations would also qualify. Visit the Department of Education’s website, call FedLoan Servicing (855) 265-4038 and review this guide to see if and how you can you can get on the path to loan forgiveness.
For an official Certification of Service for any of these three benefits listed above, send an email to [email protected], then complete and return the request form (attached to the automatic response). For additional resources and assistance with your job search, visit our RPCV Virtual Career Center.
Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors!
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Edited by Nana Yaa Agyemang: Nana Yaa Agyemang is a proud graduate of The University of Virginia where she majored in Foreign Affairs and Economics. After graduating, she served as an education and youth development volunteer in Paraguay from 2011-2013 and hopes to return soon. She is now a Program Support Assistant in the office of Peace Corps’ Chief Financial Officer.