The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

Financial Aid Programs

Compliance Partners

Manager Federal Work Study Program

Federal Work-Study Program

20 USC Part C;  34 C.F.R. § 675.1 et seq.

Contains the requirements universities must follow when participating in the federal grants for work-study programs. The law and regulations for the federal work-study program contain prohibitions on using the funds for "sectarian" or religious purposes. Federal law requires the institution of higher education receiving the federal work-study funds to sign an agreement that the funds will not be used for the "construction, operation, or maintenance of so much of any facility as is used or is to be used for sectarian instruction or as a place of religious worship." See 42 U.S.C. § 2753(b)(1)(C). Further guidance on this subject can be found at 34 C.F.R. § 675.22 that states that the work performed by the student receiving work-study money must be in the public interest. Work is not in the public interest if it "primarily benefits the members of a limited membership organization such as a credit union, a fraternal or religious order, or a cooperative." See 34 C.F.R. § 675.22(b)(1).

The regulations also prohibit the use of federal work-study funds in any partisan or nonpartisan political activity, or lobbying at the federal, state or local level. A student performing work under the Federal Work Study program should not engage in any direct lobbying communication, or in any grass roots lobbying communication. "Direct lobbying communication" is any attempt to influence legislation through communication with any member or employee of a legislative body, or any government official or employee who may participate in the formulation of the legislation. "Grass roots lobbying communication" is any attempt to influence any legislation through an attempt to affect the opinions of the general public or any segment thereof if the communication refers to specific legislation, reflects a specific view on the legislation, and encourages the recipient to take action with respect to the legislation. For more nuanced definitions of lobbying see 26 CFR § 56.4911-2

Requires the payment of at least the federal minimum wage, (and also the requirements of state or local law if higher) has community service requirements for 7% of the funds, and sets forth a test for financial need, along with a number of other requirements.


Final Regulations

64 Fed. Reg. 58284 (Oct. 28, 1999)

These regulations implement the statutory changes made by the Higher Education Act of 1998. Community service now includes childcare services provided on the campus that are open and accessible to the community, and services to students with disabilities who are "enrolled at the institution." Under the new law, services to students with disabilities are to be considered as community service activities, even if the services are provided exclusively to students with disabilities who are enrolled at the institution. This is the only statutory exception to the requirement that community services must be open and accessible to the community.

The new regulations also allow the institution, upon written request of the student, to make payment of work-study funds directly to the student's account at the school for tuition, fees, etc., or directly to the student's account at a financial institution. Specific conditions apply to this authorization.

The regulations amend 34 C.F.R. § 675.18(g) to require that, beginning July 1, 2000, an institution must ensure that one or more of its federal work-study students is employed either in a project as a reading tutor for children (age preschool through elementary) or in a family literacy project performing family literacy activities. The preamble to the regulations explains the necessary components of the family literacy project.

The regulations are amended to clarify that federal work-study employment may include internships, practicums, or assistantships, as long as the employer normally pays or has paid such persons. Academic credit may be received concurrently.

Language is added that provides that, in certain instances, the federal share of an federal work-study student's compensation while employed at a not-for-profit organization may exceed 75%, but may not exceed 90%. Conditions apply. When the student is performing family literacy activities in a family literacy project that provides services to families with preschool children or children who are in elementary school, the institution may pay a 100% federal share. This particular waiver on the institutional share went into effect with publication of the final regulations on October 28, 1999.


Student Financial Aid Handbook


ED Gov. Federal Work Study Program


updated 8-9-17