Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday announced plans outlining a new experimental site focused on the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, which would give colleges and universities the flexibility to allow students to receive FWS funds in apprenticeships, internships, required clinical rotations, and other situations not currently included in the federal aid program.
The Trump administration has repeatedly stated its intent to bolster apprenticeships as an alternative pathway to higher education, and has expressed an interest in reforming the FWS program in several budget proposals. Still, President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2020 budget proposal would cut funding for the program by 56%. In fiscal year 2019, the program was funded at $1.13 billion, and the House fiscal year 2020 budget proposal would increase funding by $304 million.
"For decades, the [FWS] program has allowed students to support themselves while earning a college degree, but for too long, the majority of the work options students have had access to have been irrelevant to their chosen field of study," DeVos said in a statement. "That will change with this experimental site. We want all students to have access to relevant earn-and-learn experiences that will prepare them for future employment."
The Department of Education (ED) also announced Monday it is planning to expand the Second Chance Pell experiment by opening it up to new cohorts of colleges and universities. Doing so, ED said in the press release, would allow the agency to improve its ability to "evaluate the program's effectiveness."
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) last month released a report that identified several challenges some participating schools faced—such as establishing eligibility and navigating verification for incarcerated individuals—and urged ED to more thoroughly evaluate the Second Chance Pell pilot program.
According to an announcement posted on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP)
Website, institutions participating in the FWS experiment would be granted waivers to "remove limits on the portion of an institution's FWS funds that may support students employed by private-sector companies, increase the number of hours per week an FWS student who is enrolled in a work-based learning program may work, reduce the share of wages that must be covered by private-sector employers, and allow institutions to pay low-income students for work experiences required by their program of study."
ED said institutions interested in participating in the FWS experiment must submit letters of interest no later than 45 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register. A pre-publication copy of the Federal Register notice was published on IFAP Monday.
Publication Date: 5/21/2019