Last week, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced the "Classrooms to Careers Act of 2019," a bill that would allow students to work full-time hours in a work-study position and would impose restrictions on the nature of all work performed under the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. The bill, by allowing FWS to also fund full-time, off-campus, cooperative education programs, aims to provide students with opportunities to develop meaningful skills related to their future career paths.
For students participating in full-time FWS-funded positions, the bill stipulates that the work cannot be longer than a 6-month period, and that the work being completed shall “complement and reinforce the educational goals or careers goals of student student receiving assistance under this part.”
The bill would also add a new requirement, applicable to all FWS employment, that all work performed under FWS must comply with the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which took effect in 2016.
With the addition of this section, all jobs offered under FWS would be required to meet all of the following requirements:
Align with skills needed in state or regional industries
Prepare the student to be successful in secondary or postsecondary education options
Include counseling to support the student's career or educational goals
Include, if appropriate, education offered concurrently and in the same context as the workforce training
Organize education and training that allows each individual to accelerate their educational and career advancement as allowable
Enable the student to obtain at least one postsecondary credential
Help the student advance within a specific occupational area
This bill joins a number of pieces of legislation focused on a singular federal student aid issue. With the House and Senate in the midst of conversations about the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization, supporters of these bills are likely to push to include them as part of a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill.
Publication Date: 3/20/2019