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DeVos Announces Federal Work-Study Experiment

The new initiative will provide institutions with more flexibility to enable students to earn work-study benefits for apprenticeships, internships and work-based learning programs.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is looking to revamp the Federal Work-Study Experiment and expand the program to engage more students in private-sector employment, increase the number of work-based learning opportunities available to students and provide more flexibility in the number of hours that a student can work.

The current FWS program consists of 92 percent of funds spent on supporting students' on-campus employment. Only 8 percent of students are working for nonprofit organizations and less than one-tenth of a percent of FWS funding is spent supporting students in private-sector employment.

Under the experiment, an institution will no longer be limited to the amount of its FWS funding that can be allocated to private-sector employers, and other requirements related to community service work opportunities will also be removed.

"For decades, the Federal Work-Study 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," said DeVos. "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 will also increase the amount of Job Location and Development funds available to institutions participating in the experiment to assist them in fostering long-term partnerships with employers. Institutions will be allowed to use JLD funds to retain apprenticeship intermediaries, to help increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities available to students. 

The FWS experiment will reduce the wage share for certain private-sector employers to be equal to the amount for nonprofit employers. The experiment will be evaluated by comparing results between similar groups of institutions or students to determine potential benefits or drawbacks related to employment outcomes and the development of workforce partnerships.

In addition to the FWS experiment, ED announced plans to plans to expand need-based Pell Grants to individuals incarcerated in state and federal prisons so that they can enroll in postsecondary programs offered by local colleges and universities. The goal is to allow more institutions to participate in the program.

"We are eager to expand the Second Chance Pell experiment, which has shown significant promise," said Secretary DeVos. "We hope that through this expansion, we can reach more students and utilize the information gathered to better inform Congress about future updates to the Higher Education Act."

More information about the experimental sites initiatives can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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