Will ED Issue FWS Community Service Waivers Due to Coronavirus?

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This AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&A was updated on December 18, 2020 to reflect the December 11, 2020 Federal Register change in Federal Work-Study (FWS) guidance related to community service expenditure requirements.

Yes. According to the December 11, 2020 Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will not be issuing waivers through the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, but they will be administratively granted to all FWS-participating schools for at least the 2019-20 and 2020-21 award years. The Federal Register reads (emphasis added):

“The Secretary is waiving the Federal Work-Study (FWS) community service requirements in § 675.18(g) for all FWS participating schools for at least the 2019–20 and 2020–21 award years. Schools do not need to apply for the waiver for either award year. The Department will  administratively grant waivers to all schools. This waiver expires at the end of the award year that begins after the date on which the Federally-declared national emergency related to COVID–19 is rescinded.

As previously stated in the April 23, 2020, Electronic Announcement:

"FWS Community Service Expenditure Requirements

A school that participates in the FWS Program is required to expend at least seven percent (7%) of its FWS federal allocation to pay the federal share of wages to students employed in community service jobs in an award year. A school is also expected to provide the institutional share of wages to students employed in community service jobs. In addition, one or more of the school’s FWS students must be employed as a reading tutor for children in a reading tutoring project or performing family literacy activities in a family literacy project. 34 CFR 675.18(g)(1).

To reduce the burden on schools, and in recognition that some community service employment opportunities may be disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we intend to exercise our authority under the HEROES Act to grant a waiver of the FWS community service requirements described above to all FWS-participating schools for the 2019–20 and 2020–21 award years. A notice to that effect will be forthcoming in the Federal Register. No action needs to be initiated by schools in order to request the waiver for either award year. Whether or not a school applied for the waiver by the stated deadline, or previously applied for a waiver and was denied, is immaterial. Waivers will not be issued to all schools through the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, but will be administratively granted to all schools."

Notes:

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