ED Calls on Colleges to Prioritize Federal Work-Study Funds for Tutors, Mentors, and Student Success Coaches

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday sent a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to university, college, and school district leaders encouraging them to work together to use Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds and other federal resources to increase the number of college students supporting school-aged children as tutors, mentors, student success coaches, and other student support roles.

The call to action is part of the Department of Education’s (ED) work with AmeriCorps and Johns Hopkins University through the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS), which ED said helps schools districts and other organizations deploy tutors and other student success roles to address student needs. In Cardona’s DCL, he applauded the 26 institutions that are part of the first cohort in partnering with NPSS. 

Additionally, Cardona called on institutions to set a public goal within the next two years to use at least 15% of their FWS funds to compensate college students employed in community service activities and to devote any increase in the use of FWS compensation for community service to employment in P-12 schools or out-of-school time programs. 

The institutions should also prioritize sharing data with the NPSS on the number of college students serving in these roles, including those receiving support through FWS or other programs. And because many FWS community service jobs take place off campus, institutions should consider providing transportation or covering costs for students who need transportation, using non-FWS funds. 

In the DCL, Cardona noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on students' learning and mental health, especially low-income students, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities. While there have been great strides to help these students, more support needs to be given to help them fully recover, he said.

“By serving as tutors and mentors, college students can make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth, and ultimately, it is in the best interests of our colleges and universities to help accelerate academic recovery in our public elementary and secondary schools,” Cardona said in a statement. “I’m hopeful that this initiative will inspire more college students of diverse backgrounds and income levels to consider careers as educators.”


Publication Date: 5/12/2023

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