FAQs For Volunteers
Many college loans can be deferred while a young adult works for a volunteer organization. Many agencies that are involved with using volunteers in certain domestic projects in America also have an agreement with AmeriCorps that allows for an educational stipend at the end of a year's assignment. Each volunteer receives $4725 that can be used either to pay off student loans or applied to future college tuition. Some organizations, such as Mennonite Central Committee, will contribute a certain amount towards non-deferred college loans while the volunteer is on assignment. Check each organization's policy for further information.
This varies by organization, but most ask for your specific input on preferred placement. Those organizations that have "suggested deadlines," such as Jesuit Volunteer Corps state that applicants who meet or precede the deadline have a greater chance of getting their first choice. For some agencies, fluency in a foreign language helps determine placement, but this is not always pertinent. Most organizations encourage an "openness to adventure" in their applicants and a spirit of flexibility towards their ultimate assignment.
Usually not. Many church organizations develop an extensive expression of service as a "hands-on" way to partner with local citizens in addressing needs in our world, but welcome all applicants who want to share in this service. Some church service organizations do not require that you belong to their particular church (like Mennonite Central Committee), but seek volunteers who are active members of any Christian denomination that want to serve as an expression of their Christian faith. If you know a specific service organization you want to work with, you should verify their expectations.
For long-term international and domestic service (two-years or more), most organizations cover basic expenses of transportation, orientation, room and board, medical and dental insurance, retreats, a vacation, and a modest stipend.
For shorter-term (one year) assignments, some organizations ask that you help raise funds to cover part of your expenses and will provide guidance in raising this support. Many require no upfront costs. Each organization provides this information in their recruitment packets.
Volunteers who need to raise support often find the process both challenging and meaningful. It can be powerful to find that your church, family, and friends support you as you serve. The process usually takes several months of active follow-up.
Organizations vary, but most require an application with essays, interviews, and recommendations. Some have very specific application deadlines and starting dates for orientation; others have "rolling applications" and select candidates throughout the year and hold several orientations during a year. Applicants hear of their acceptance anywhere from six weeks to six months. Websites often include online application forms and information on requirements, such as language proficiency, age, college degree, etc.