Community services eligible for Federal Work Study (FWS)

Community services are defined as services that are identified by an institution of higher education through formal or informal consultation with local nonprofit, government, and community-based organizations, as designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs. These services include:

  • fields such as health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial services), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response;
  • work in service opportunities or youth corps under AmeriCorps, and service in the agencies, institutions, and activities described later;
  • support services for students with disabilities (including students with disabilities who are enrolled at the institution of higher education. This is the only statutory exception to the requirement that community service be open and accessible to the community.); and
  • activities in which a FWS student serves as a mentor for such purposes as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

To be considered employed in a community service job for FWS purposes, a FWS student does not have to provide a “direct” service. The student must provide services that are designed to improve the quality of life for community residents or to solve particular problems related to those residents’ needs. A school may use its discretion to determine what jobs provide service to the community, within the guidelines provided by the statute, regulations, and the Department.

A university or college is not considered a community for the purposes of the FWS community service requirements. On-campus jobs can meet the definition of community services, provided the services are designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, or to solve problems related to their needs and that they meet the regulatory and statutory provisions pertaining to the applicable FWS employment limitations and conditions.