The Jewish Service Corps

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Support

Our financial support is designed to cover your basic needs during your year of service. Your housing, utilities, public transportation costs to and from work, and health insurance are all covered.  In addition, you will receive a modest monthly stipend to cover basic necessities, and an exit stipend upon completing the program. Homes come fully furnished with stocked kitchens at the beginning of orientation.  

The monthly living stipend is not designed to help you save, or to cover large expenses (like air travel, school application fees, or out-of-pocket prescription medication costs that exceed $500 per year). For most applicants though, it is enough to cover your basic needs like groceries, toiletries, and other essentials, especially when considering the savings that come from living communally and pooling resources. If you have additional financial needs or concerns about supporting emergency needs while in the Service Corps, scroll down to learn about our Economic Access Fund.

How much are the stipends?

The numbers are based on costs for basic necessities, which are a bit different depending on the city you live in. Our stipends increase yearly to keep up with the cost of living in each city. This year’s stipends (now updated for the 2024-2025 program year) are:

Chicago

$718/month allowance ($823 including transportation allowance)

New Orleans

$718/month allowance ($778 including transportation allowance)

New York City

$780/month allowance ($912 including transportation allowance)

Washington, DC

$738/month allowance ($938 including transportation allowance)

Can I support myself on the allowance?

Most Corps Members are able to support themselves on the allowance given that the program covers rent, health insurance, and commuting costs. It may be a more modest lifestyle than some are used to, but living in a community helps to keep the cost of living down and we provide subsidies for certain areas of life in the program (like dinners on program nights). You’ll need to make  decisions about budgeting and collaborate with your housemates to decide priorities for the needs of the house, like how to buy food together. It sounds like a challenge (and it is), but it’s the best way to gain real-life budgeting skills that will last a lifetime. And don’t forget: you’ll be living in a city that offers tons of free and cheap ways to have fun!

What if I have additional financial needs?

While most Corps Members are able to support themselves on the allowance, we know that doesn’t include everyone. We are continuously striving to make the Jewish Service Corps more economically accessible to a wider variety of participants. A few years ago, we implemented an Economic Access Fund for our Corps Members to provide a safety net for those who don’t have access to other financial safety nets. The Economic Access Fund can be requested for expenses such as medication copays, winter clothes, transportation for a visit home, etc. 

We also recognize that for applicants with large additional expenses, or who come from poor or working-class backgrounds, the Service Corps may not yet be a feasible option. If you’d like honest support in thinking through whether the Service Corps is possible for you economically, please reach out to our Recruitment Director, Emily, at apply@avodah.net.

What about my student loans?

Many loans can be deferred during a year in Avodah, though you should check with their specific loan provider to confirm. You’ll have to initiate this process yourself, but we’re happy to provide instructions and help you sort things out.

Still have questions?

Our Recruitment team is here to help you through the application process and will be available every step of the way, from start to finish. We know that everyone’s background and needs are different, and they’re here to answer any questions you may have.