Updated Jun 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration to pay White House interns for the first time in recent history

White House

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday announced a new internship program that will see White House pay its interns.

Why it matters: Unpaid internships are only practical for a privileged few and are often early exacerbators of inequality.

  • Often, students who can afford to take an unpaid internship either have family money to pay rent and living expenses or come from wealthy universities that can provide hefty stipends, writes Axios' Erica Pandey.

Details: White House interns will be paid a rate equal to $750 per week, which will be disbursed in two stipends, at the start and end of their internships, according to the program's frequently asked questions page.

  • Interns who don't complete the full 14-week program will be required to "repay in the amount equal to the uncompleted time," it noted.
  • In order to participate in the program, interns are not allowed to receive an outside source of funding from a third-party organization.

The big picture: The program will begin this fall. Interns will work in both the White House Office and the Office of the Vice President, per a White House press release.

While the Biden administration originally billed it as “the first time in history” that there would be a paid internship program at the White House, records show that White House interns in the summer of 1974 were considered “salaried employees,” The Washington Post reported.

  • The interns' pay will come from bipartisan legislation Biden signed earlier this year.

What they're saying: "This significant milestone of paying White House interns will help remove barriers to equal opportunity for low-income students and first-generation professionals at the beginnings of their careers and help to ensure that those who receive internships at the White House — and who will be a significant part of the leadership pipeline across the entire federal government — reflect the diversity of America," the press release read.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that this is not the first time the White House has paid its interns, even though it was billed as such in the original WH press release.

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