Learn about Volunteering

Interested in volunteering?

What do volunteers do? Where do volunteers go? How do I become a volunteer? What are the benefits? These questions and more are answered on the Peace Corps website.

Returned Volunteers

Are you a returning volunteer?

First, thank you for your service! There are many resources available to you on the Peace Corps website. There is also a local group in Ithaca organized through Yahoo! Groups. Peace Corps Ithaca brings Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) together and provides them with the opportunity to interact with each other as well as to share their experiences with the community as a whole.

Graduate Students

What does In-Absentia status mean?

In absentia status is a type of registration that allows you to maintain student status at Cornell while completing research elsewhere. You must discuss your particular situation with your graduate student services representative or professional school advising office to find out if you are eligible and what procedures you need to follow. The in-Absentia fee is $200 per semester.

What does Leave of Absence mean?

Students who must interrupt the regular academic program may be granted a one-year leave of absence by the graduate school, your professional school or your college advising office. While you are on a leave of absence, you will not have student status which may affect student loan deferment and access to campus facilities and services. Please check with your graduate student services representative in 143Caldwell Hall for the details and procedures.

As an MI student you may qualify for an exception with sponsor for 30 months or so. You can maintain your net ID and can continue to have access to electronic collections when you return to campus. Physical access to the library wouldn't be an issue. This service is free of charge. After returning if you want to check out books, you can request "local resident" option for $20 a month. That doesn't provide interlibrary loan, but it does give borrowing privileges for books here. If interested, send request to Jim Haldeman.

What if I plan to return from a leave of absence just to defend my thesis/dissertation?

If you plan to return from an approved leave of absence for the purpose of defending your project paper, contact your graduate student services representatives to find out the correct procedures and requirements.

What about student loans?

For those MI students who select the in-absentia status, you are not required to continuing making school loan payments. If you select the leave of absence option, while a Peace Corps volunteer, you should not have to make loan payments.

Who pays my In-Absentia fees while I am serving?

It is the student's responsibility to find funding ($200/semester). Apply for scholarships; ask your advisor for department money, etc.

What do I do about Health Insurance coverage while on leave?

While serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer you will not need to carry the Cornell Health Insurance since you have complete coverage through PC. You must waive the Cornell health insurance. You must complete the SHIP waiver before your departure from campus or else you will be charged health insurance.

Do I need to enroll in classes while I am serving?

Yes, there is an in-absentia class, and your Graduate School Counselor can help you find the number for enrolling at the beginning of each semester. Make sure to enroll before the deadline is over.

What is my graduation date?

Your graduation date should be one semester after you have returned from your service, but it is up to your discretion. Make sure that your graduation date is correct a semester into your first year, or else Cornell will think you are graduating, and/or allow your student loans to think they can start billing you. You should contact your student service representative at the graduate school to confirm graduation date.

What about student loans?

For almost every loan, being in in-absentia status means that you are still a full-time student and do not have to pay your student loans until you graduate. Check to make sure your graduation date is set to after you return from Peace Corps service and you won't have to pay anything until you are done at Cornell. The same should hold if you select the leave of absence option.

How do you handle the MPS project paper?

It is up to each advisor /program how your project paper is handled. Students often enroll in absentia for one or two semesters to devote time to the field component of their program and writing their special project paper. Students must take IARD 5990 International Agriculture and Rural Development MPS/Project Paper to begin this process. You should take two full semesters of coursework. Enroll as "In Absentia" for the time you are on assignment and writing your project paper. It is up to the department regarding the number of semesters you can carry an incomplete.