Publication Date: May 2007
FWS Community Service Requirements
Subject: FWS Community Service Requirements
Summary: This letter reminds institutions of the statutory requirement that they spend at least seven percent of their Federal Work-Study (FWS) federal contribution as compensation to FWS students employed in community service activities. In addition, each institution must also have at least one reading tutoring of children or family literacy project. This letter also informs institutions of the sanctions it is subject to for failure to be in compliance with these requirements.
Under Section 443(b)(2)(B) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) and the implementing regulations at 34 CFR 675.18(g), an institution that participates in the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program must use at least seven percent of its total FWS Federal funds to pay students employed in community service jobs. In addition, the institution must ensure that it includes at least one reading tutoring of children or family literacy project in providing community service. This means that an institution must meet two community service requirements each award year and the institution can fail one or both of them.
Section 443(b)(2)(B) of the HEA also provides that a waiver of one or both of the community service requirements may be granted if the Secretary determines that enforcing the requirements would cause hardship for students at the institution. Among other things, waivers have been granted for reasons such as –
- When the institution had a very small FWS allocation, (approximately $18,000 or less);
- When the institution was in a rural area that was located far away from the types of organizations that provide community service jobs and the students either lacked a means of transportation or the transportation costs were very high; and
- When the institution offered only a single program of specialized study that required its students to participate in extensive curriculum and classroom workloads.
The fact that it may be difficult for the school to comply with the requirement is not in and of itself a basis for granting a waiver. An institution must submit a waiver request in order to receive a waiver. For example, an institution with an allocation of $18,000 or less must submit a request if it wants a waiver. The Department does not just automatically provide a waiver to an institution because its allocation was small. Note that in an Electronic Announcement that was posted to our Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website on May 11, 2007, we announced that the deadline for submitting a waiver has been extended until May 31, 2007.
FWS Community Service Requirements
In determining whether an institution has met the minimum seven percent community service expenditure requirement for an award year, the Department takes the initial plus supplemental FWS Federal funds allocated to the institution for that award year minus any FWS Federal funds released to the Department before the institution files its Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP). The resulting amount is considered the FWS funds granted to the institution and is compared to the total FWS Federal funds the institution spent for the same award year to pay students employed in community service jobs as reported on the FISAP. For example, consider an institution whose original 2007-2008 FWS Federal allocation was $110,000. As part of the Department’s annual campus-based reallocation process, this institution released $10,000 of its Federal FWS allocation, making this institution’s adjusted FWS Federal allocation $100,000 for the award year. Thus, this institution must have paid at least $7,000 as the Federal share of compensation paid to students who were performing community service activities.
In determining whether an institution has at least one reading tutoring of children or family literacy project, the Department reviews the FISAP for at least one FWS student reported in one of these two community service positions.
As noted earlier, an institution may request a waiver of either or both of the FWS community service requirements for the upcoming 2007-2008 award year. If your institution does not submit a request for a waiver or if a submitted waiver request is denied it must be in compliance with both of the FWS community service requirements for the 2007-2008 award year. Therefore, if during or at the end of the 2007-2008 award year, you determine that your institution will not spend at least seven percent of its 2007-2008 FWS allocation as the Federal share of compensation for FWS students employed in community service activities, a portion of its FWS Federal allocation must be released, so that the amount expended for community service activities equals at least seven percent of the adjusted FWS federal allocation. Information on how an institution can release a portion of its 2007-2008 FWS allocation will be announced on IFAP.
An institution that participates in the FWS Program that fails to meet one or both of the FWS community service requirements for the 2007-2008 Award Year, or in subsequent award years, will be required to return FWS Federal funds in an amount that represents the difference between the amount that the institution should have spent for community service and the amount that it actually spent. Further, an institution that is out of compliance with the FWS community service requirements may be subject to a Limitation, Suspension, and Termination (L, S, & T) proceeding, where the institution could be denied future participation in the FWS Program, and possibly other Title IV, HEA programs, and/or subject to a substantial fine.
If you have questions about the FWS community service requirements or the procedures for requesting a waiver, contact the Campus-Based Call Center at (877) 801-7168. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. until 8:00 P.M. (ET). You may also e-mail your questions to CBFOB@ed.gov.
Jeff Baker, Director
Policy Liaison and Implementation