Early Termination

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Peace Corps Manual Section 284 establishes the policies and procedures governing the circumstances under which a Peace Corps Volunteer's service may end prior to the completion of service date. An ET occurs when Volunteer "cannot or should not remain in service until his or her completion of service (COS) date."

There are four types of early termination:


Determining ET Rates

Before 1981, Peace Corps used the V Year method, standing for 'Volunteer-Year'. It is the number of ET's by an average volunteer during one year of service. Since most volunteers successfully complete their service, which is longer than one year, this number would be a "fraction of an ET". Example: If the V-Year ET Rate was 0.20 (per year) we would expect about 2 out of 10 volunteer to ET per year, and 1 out of 10 every 6 months.

In 1981, at the request of the General Accounting Office, the agency's Office of Special Service began to report Volunteer attrition, using the Cohort Method. This method addresses the question: 'If X number of people enter Peace Corps service during a given time period, how many actually complete their service?"

A cohort is defined as all trainees who enter on duty during a Fiscal Year (i.e. the Class of FY90), and the cohort attrition rate as the percent of Volunteers and Trainees within a cohort who do not complete service (e.g. 29% of the Class of FY90 did not complete service). Cohort attrition is also referred to as 'class of' attrition rate (where 'class of' refers to all trainees entering on duty during a Fiscal Year).

Cohort ET Rates tend to be at least double the ET reported by posts using the V Year chart method. While these latter rates (V-Year) are essential for budget calculations purposes, they provide an incomplete - thus, distorted - picture of overall attrition. Unlike the V Year chart method used by posts to calculate T and V ET Rates, the cohort method provides a complete picture of attrition because it follows people over their full tour (meaning, for most Volunteers, a 24 to 27 month period).

In the early 2000's, Peace Corps switched formulas to an Annual Method in reported ET data. The 'ET Rate' using the annual method is the number of PCVs/Ts who separated from the Peace Corps during the fiscal year divided by the total number of trainees and volunteers who served at any time during the fiscal year. Thus, a volunteer who served for one day and another volunteer who served for the full fiscal year are counted equally for the denominator of the fraction. This leads to the consequence that the Annual ET Rate tends to under represent the same rate measured by the Cohort Method; ranging from two to three times lower.

Comparison Between Methods

V Year Cohort Method Annual Method
before 1981 1981 - early 2000s used currently
roughly half of Cohort value "complete picture of attrition" roughly half to a third of Cohort Value
n/a FY 1990: 29% ET Rate FY 1990: 13% ET Rate
n/a Meaning: 29% of all volunteers who
entered service in FY 1990 ET'ed
sometime before their COS date
Meaning: 13% of all volunteers who
served any portion of the fiscal year
of 1990 ET'ed within that year


This graphic demonstrates the difference between calculating ET Rates by the Cohort and Annual Methods.

Historical ET Rates

The Historical ET Rates depends on which formula you used in calculating them. Prior to 2000 Peace Corps used the 'Cohort Method' in calculating ET Rates and as such the Historical ET Rates were reported using the 'Cohort Method'. Peace Corps is now using the 'Annual Method', and as such Historical ET Rates have been retroactively changed to accommodate the new method.

This graphic shows Historical ET Rates (up to 1994) using the Cohort Method
This graphic shows Historical ET Rates (up to 2004) using the Annual Method
The Historical ET Rate using the Cohort Method. A cohort is defined as all trainees who enter on duty during a Fiscal Year (i.e. the Class of FY90) and the cohort attrition rate as the percent of Volunteers and Trainees within a cohort who do not complete service.
Example: 29% of all volunteers who entered service in FY 1990 ET'ed sometime before their COS date.
The Historical ET Rate using the Annual Method is the number of PCVs/Ts who separated from the Peace Corps during the fiscal year divided by the total number of trainees and volunteers who served at any time during the fiscal year.
Example: 13% of all volunteers who served any portion of FY 1990 ET'ed within that year

Current ET Rates

Care must be taken in comparing ET Rates reported from documents using different formulas for measuring ET Rates.


Reports using the Annual Method


Reports using the Cohort Method


(Note: All documents were obtained from Peace Corps, by request, using the Freedom of Information Act and are in public domain)

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