Can a Student Earn FWS Funds If She Is Not Attending Classes During the Upcoming Summer Term Or Payment Period?

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It depends.

The rules for awarding Federal Work-Study (FWS) for a period of nonattendance, including summer, have not changed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This is because the FWS employment for a period of nonattendance is based on the student's intention to reenroll in the upcoming period of enrollment after the period of nonattendance ends, and the student's FWS eligibility for the period of nonattendance is based on the student's need for the next period of enrollment. The student must actually work the hours to be paid FWS during the period of nonattendance.

For example, a student can be paid FWS for the summer 2020 if the student will not be attending summer classes and intends to reenroll in the fall. This student's FWS eligibility is based on her financial need for the upcoming award year (e.g., fall-spring). The student must work the hours to be paid during the summer period. Refer to Volume 6, Chapter 2 of the FSA Handbook.

Under the COVID-19 guidance in the April 3, 2020 Electronic Announcement, you still cannot pay a student FWS funds for not working if that student does not begin attendance in classes for the summer payment period or period of nonattendance. This is true regardless of whether the student is unable to work due to COVID-19. Therefore, you have to apply the FSA Handbook guidance noted above for periods of nonattendance, in which case, the student must actually work the hours in order to earn the FWS funds for the summer.

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