Maintained for Historical Purposes

This resource is being maintained for historical purposes only and is not currently applicable.

Federal Work-Study Program - Selecting Recipients and Assigning Jobs

AwardYear: 1997-1998
EnterChapterNo: 7
EnterChapterTitle: Federal Work-Study Program
SectionNumber: 1
SectionTitle: Selecting Recipients and Assigning Jobs
PageNumbers: 5-9


[[Financial need]]
To be eligible for a Federal Work-Study (FWS) job, a student must
meet all eligibility requirements listed in Chapter 2, Section 1. In
addition, a student must have financial need; that is, his or her cost of
attendance (COA) must be greater than his or her Expected Family
Contribution (EFC). A financial aid administrator may not award
FWS employment to a student if that award, when combined with all
other resources, would exceed the student's need. (See Section 2 of
this chapter.) However, unlike the other two campus-based
programs, the FWS Program does not require that priority be given
to students who have EXCEPTIONAL financial need. In choosing
students for FWS employment, schools must follow the selection
procedures discussed in Chapter 5, Section 1.

Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply for
employment under the FWS Program. A student who has earned a
bachelor's or first professional degree is also eligible to receive an
FWS job to pursue an ADDITIONAL UNDERGRADUATE degree.

[[Less-than-full-time & independent students]]
Since the beginning of the 1993-94 award year, a school has been
required to offer at least 5% of its federal FWS allocation to LESS-
STUDENTS if 1) the allocation is partly based on the financial need
of these students AND 2) the financial need of these students exceeds
5% of the total financial need of all students at the school. (See
Chapter 5, Section 1).

[[Teacher certification program]]
A school may award an FWS job to a student who is enrolled or
accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time basis in an eligible
teacher certification program. Criteria for an eligible teacher
certification program are discussed in Chapter 5, Section 1.


[[Complement academic career goals]]
A school must make FWS jobs reasonably available to all eligible
students at the school. To the extent funds are available, the school
must also make available "equivalent employment" (that is, similar
non-FWS jobs offered or arranged by the school) to all students at
the school who want to work. To the maximum extent practicable, a
school must provide FWS jobs that will complement and reinforce
each recipient's educational program or career goals.

In assigning an FWS job, a school must consider the student's
financial need, the number of hours per week the student can work,
the period of employment, the anticipated wage rate, and the amount
of other assistance available to the student. While there is no
minimum or maximum award, the amount for each student should be
determined based on these factors.

[[Jobs on or off campus]]
FWS jobs may be on campus or off campus. See Section 4 of this
chapter for more information. Off-campus jobs must be in the public
interest if the work is for a federal, state, or local public agency or
for a private nonprofit organization. However, a school may use part
of its FWS allocation to provide jobs in private for-profit

[[Community service jobs]]
FWS employment may be used for community service programs and
for programs providing supportive services to students with
disabilities. (Types of employment are discussed in Section 4 of this


Each FWS position should have a job description that
includes the following:

- the name and address of the student's employer (department,
public agency, nonprofit organization),

- the purpose of the student's job,

- the student's duties and responsibilities,

- the job qualifications,

- the job's wage rate or range,

- the length of the student's employment (beginning and ending
dates), and

- the name of the student's supervisor.

[[Job description purposes]]
The job description has several purposes:

- It clearly defines whether the job qualifies under the FWS

- It provides the information needed to explain the position to a
student and to help him or her select the type of employment most
closely related to his or her educational or career objectives.

- It helps the financial aid administrator, the student, and the
supervisor determine the number of hours of work required at the
specified wage rate to meet a student's financial need.

- It establishes a written record, for both student and employer, of
the job's duties and responsibilities so that there will be no

[[Community service job description]]
If a student is employed with an agency or organization that provides
community services, the school should, as with any other FWS
position, have a job description that includes the duties and the
responsibilities. For example, a community food bank appears to be
the type of organization that has jobs that satisfy the definition of
community services; however, the institution must review the
individual job descriptions and determine if certain positions at the
community food bank qualify. If the FWS recipient will work as a
clerk in the food bank, the duties in the job description for the
position of clerk would have to meet the definition of community
services in the FWS regulations before the job could be considered
an FWS community service job. (See the definition in Section 4 of
this chapter.) The duties must include providing indirect or direct
services designed to improve the quality of life for community
residents, particularly low-income individuals, or designed to solve
particular problems related to their needs. It is important to note that
work performed off campus for a nonprofit agency must also be in
the public interest. (See page 7-24.)


[[Employment conditions]]
The provisions discussed below apply to all work under FWS,
whether on or off campus.

[[Minimum wage--CB-96-23]]
FWS employment must be governed by employment conditions,
including pay, that are reasonable according to the type of work
performed, the geographic region, the employee's proficiency, and
any applicable federal, state, or local law.

FWS employers must pay students at least the current federal
minimum wage. The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996
amended the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by increasing the
Federal minimum wage from $4.25 an hour to $4.75 an hour,
effective October 1, 1996, and to $5.15 an hour, effective September
1, 1997 (refer to "Dear Colleague" letter CB-96-23, dated November
1996). The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 also
established a subminimum, or training, wage that is lower than the
minimum wage. However, it is not permissible to pay the
subminimum wage rate to students in FWS jobs.

[[Displacing regular workers prohibited]]
FWS employment must not displace employees (including those on
strike) or impair existing service contracts. Also, if the school has an
employment agreement with an organization in the private sector, the
organization's employees must not be replaced with FWS students.
Replacement is interpreted as displacement.

[[Employment in building used for religious purposes]]
FWS positions must not involve constructing, operating, or
maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or
sectarian instruction. In determining whether any FWS employment
will violate this restriction, a school should consider the purpose of
the part of the facility in which the work will take place and the
nature of the work to be performed. If the part of the facility in
which the student will work is used for religious worship or sectarian
instruction, the work cannot involve construction, operation, or
maintenance responsibilities. If that part of the facility is not being
used for religious worship or sectarian instruction, the school should
make sure that any work the student will perform meets general
employment conditions and that other limitations are not violated.

[[Fees or commissions prohibited]]
Neither a school nor an outside employer that has an agreement with
the school to hire FWS students may solicit, accept, or permit
soliciting any fee, commission, contribution, or gift as a condition for
a student's FWS employment. However, a student may pay union
dues to an employer if they are a condition of employment and if the
employer's non-FWS employees must also pay dues.

[[Voluntary services prohibited]]
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, prohibits
employers (including schools) from accepting voluntary services
from any paid employee. Any student employed under FWS must be
paid for all hours worked.

[[Academic credit for work-study]]
The fact that a student may receive academic credit from the work
performed does not disqualify the job under FWS. However, there
are certain restrictions. For a student who must complete an
internship or practicum as part of his or her degree requirement, the
internship or practicum does not qualify under FWS unless the
employer normally pays all other persons who hold the same
position or has paid all other persons who have held the same
position in the past. If the employer normally pays or has paid these
persons, the internship or practicum qualifies as an FWS job. A
student who receives academic credit for an FWS job should not be
paid any less than he or she would be paid if no academic credit were
received. A student may not be paid for receiving instruction in a
classroom, laboratory, or other academic setting.

[[Garnishment of FWS wages]]
A student's FWS wages may be garnished only to pay any costs of
attendance that the student owes the school or that will become due
and payable during the period of the award. Schools must oppose
any garnishment order they receive for any other type of debt;
paying FWS funds in such cases would not be in compliance with the
Student Financial Assistance (SFA) requirement that funds be used
solely for educational purposes. As schools may not necessarily be
the employers in an off-campus employment arrangement, they must
adopt effective procedures to notify off-campus employers that
garnishment of FWS wages for any debt other than a cost of
attendance is not permissible.

Last Modified: 07/09/1998