Pop Quiz – Can Federal Work-Study Funds Be Used to Pay for Student Background Checks?

Question:

A potential new community service partner would require mentors who are Federal Work-Study (FWS) students to submit to a background check in order to be hired. Can FWS funds be used to pay for this cost the student would incur?

Answer:

Federal Work-Study funds cannot be used, however, a school's administrative cost allowance (ACA) may be used to pay for the background check. Please see the following from the sidebar on page 6-23 of the 2015-16 FSA Handbook

"Using ACA to train FWS tutors
A school may use a portion of its Administrative Cost Allowance (ACA) to cover the costs of training an FWS tutor. A school may also use a portion of its ACA to cover expenses that are related to employing a student as a tutor with a local school district and that the school may not incur with another organization. If, for example, a school district requires all employees to undergo a background check and be fingerprinted at a cost of $40 per employee, the postsecondary school may use a portion of its ACA to cover this cost. The FWS Program does not provide for any additional funds beyond the ACA for technical assistance and training of tutors."

It was confirmed with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), that this was not applicable just to FWS tutors. So, the case wherein a potential new community service partner would require mentors (FWS students) to submit to a background check in order to be hired, the ACA could be used to pay for the expense as long as the institution is compliant with all other requirements.

 

Publication Date: 7/26/2016


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