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For years White House interns have not been paid. That will soon change

A view of the White House and South Lawn area on June 23, 2006.
Ron Edmonds
Associated Press
A view of the White House and South Lawn area on June 23, 2006.

For the first time in the history of the White House internship program, participating interns will be paid $750 per week beginning in the fall.

Interns are expected to work a minimum of 35 hours per week, making the maximum hourly rate $21.42.

"Too often, unpaid federal internships have been a barrier to hardworking and talented students and professionals, preventing them from contributing their talents and skills to the country and holding them back from federal career advancement opportunities," the White House said in a statement.

Living expenses run high for interns in D.C., ranging anywhere from $350 a week for intern housing to a couple thousand a month — not counting food and transportation.

The funding to pay the interns working across the White House Office and Office of the Vice President comes from a congressional spending bill President Biden signed into law in March. It allocated $4.5 million toward the intern pay.

The White House pay announcement comes nearly five years after Congress began paying its interns. While pay was supposed to increase the diversity of candidates — a goal shared by the White House — a report from Pay Our Interns, a nonprofit founded by two previously unpaid Hill interns, found racial and ethnic representation among paid positions has not increased.

The March spending bill also included $7 million for Senate intern pay, an increase of $1 million from fiscal year 2021 and an average of $70,000 provided to each senator's office to compensate interns.

The application for the White House's fall 2022 session, which is expected to be in-person for 14 weeks, will open on Monday, June 6, and close on Friday, June 24.

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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.