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(Campus-Based) Subject: 2009-2010 Federal Work-Study Program Community Service Waiver Requests

Posted Date: March 24, 2009

Author: William Leith, Service Director, Program Management, Federal Student Aid

Subject: 2009-2010 Federal Work-Study Program Community Service Waiver Requests

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) set forth the community service expenditure requirements under the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program that a school must meet unless it is granted a waiver from the Secretary. The questions and answers that follow explain how a school requests a waiver of the community service expenditure requirements under the FWS Program for the 2009-2010 Award Year.

Note: In Dear Colleague Letter CB-07-08, we reminded schools of the statutory community service expenditure requirements and informed schools of the sanctions for noncompliance with these requirements. As explained in CB-07-08, a school that fails to meet one or both of the FWS community service requirements will be required to return FWS Federal funds in an amount that represents the difference between the amount a school should have spent for community service and the amount it actually spent. Further, a school that is not compliant with the FWS community service requirements may be subject to a Limitation, Suspension, and Termination (L, S, & T) proceeding, through which the school could be denied future participation in the FWS Program, and possibly other Title IV, HEA programs, and/or subject to a substantial fine.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q1: What are the FWS community service expenditure requirements?

A1: Each school that participates in the FWS Program is required to expend at least seven percent of its total FWS Federal allocation to compensate students employed in community service activities. Also, in meeting that seven percent community service expenditure requirement, one or more of the school's FWS students must be employed as a reading tutor for children in a reading tutoring project or performing family literacy activities in a family literacy project.
[34 CFR 675.18(g)(1)]

Q2: Who can approve a waiver request?

A2: The Secretary may waive one or both of these requirements for a school if he determines that the school has demonstrated that enforcing the requirement(s) would cause a hardship for the students at that school. The fact that it may be difficult for the school to comply with the requirement(s) is not in and of itself a basis for granting a waiver. [34 CFR 675.18(g)(2)]

Q3: What are some examples of previously approved waivers?

A3: In the past, the Secretary has approved a limited number of waivers when schools were able to demonstrate an exceptional circumstance. Some examples are as follows:

Small FWS Allocation - The school had a very small FWS allocation. The supporting information submitted by the school noted that seven percent of the school's allocation only provided enough funds for a student to work in a community service job for a short period of time. Therefore, the school was unable to find placement for a student in community service.

Rural Area - The school was in a rural area that was located far from the type of organizations that would normally provide community service jobs. The school provided information that showed that its students lacked the means of transportation to get to the location of the community service jobs. In a similar waiver request in which transportation did exist, a school provided documentation that showed that the transportation costs were extremely high for the students.

Specialized Program - The school offered only a single program of specialized study that required its students to spend extensive amounts of time in classroom and non-classroom academic activities. The school provided information that demonstrated that this specialized educational program did not allow its students to have time for performing community service jobs at the time those work opportunities were available.

Q4: What must a school's waiver request include?

A4: A school's waiver request must be submitted electronically and-

  • Specify whether the school is requesting a waiver of the seven percent community service requirement, the reading tutors of children or family literacy project requirement, or both; and

  • Include detailed information to demonstrate that complying with the requirement(s) would cause hardship for the school's students.

Q5: How does a school submit a waiver request to the Department of Education (the Department)?

A5: A school must submit its waiver request to the Department electronically via the eCampus-Based (eCB) Web site at https://cbfisap.ed.gov/. Go to the "Community Service Waiver" link at the top of the Setup - Change Years/Schools page.

Q6: What is the deadline by which a school must submit a waiver request to the Department?

A6: The deadline for electronic submission of a school's waiver request is 11:59 P.M. (ET) on Friday, April 24, 2009. Transmissions must be completed and accepted by 12:00 midnight.

Q7: What happens if a school is late in submitting its waiver request to the Department?

A7: A waiver request that is received (as explained in Q&A #6) after April 24, 2009 will not be considered.

Q8: What can a school expect after submitting a waiver request by the deadline?

A8: By July 1, 2009, we plan to notify a school via e-mail that a decision has been made. In this e-mail, we will inform the school that the Secretary's decision to approve or deny the school's waiver request has been posted to the eCB Web site. We will send this e-mail to the school's Financial Aid Administrator, as provided in the school's most recently submitted Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate or as updated via the "Contact Info" page on the eCB Web site.

To access the decision following receipt of this e-mail, log in to the eCB Web site, select the "Self-Service" link from the top navigation bar, and scroll to the "Campus-Based Notifications for All Available Award Years" section. Then, scroll to the "Community Service Waiver" bullet and select the "2009-2010" link next to it.

Contact Information

We hope this information is helpful to your school. If you have additional questions about the FWS community service expenditure 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 CBFOB@ed.gov.

Last Modified: 03/23/2009