A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Planning and Evaluation Service
Analysis and Highlights
The National Study of the Operation of the Federal Work-Study Program
The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, begun in 1965, disburses federal funding to postsecondary institutions to provide students with part-time employment opportunities to help finance their education. In FY 2000, the federal government provided $934 million through the FWS program to help support 1 million postsecondary students. This report, based on a nationally representative survey of Federal Work-Study (FWS) administrators and recipients conducted in 1998, analyzes student and institutional experiences with the FWS program and describes how the program is operated.
Students indicated high levels of satisfaction with the FWS program and felt that it contributed positively to their academic studies. Students also felt that they received the supervision and training they needed. Institutions generally tried to match FWS students with jobs and routinely followed up with employers. However, institutions rarely followed up with students regarding their satisfaction with the program. Both students and institutions indicated a high level of interest in participating in America Reads and the vast majority of students who held community service jobs felt that this would have a positive effect on their future participation in community service activities.
- Students almost unanimously reported that participation in the FWS program was a positive experience. More than 95 percent of FWS students indicated that overall they were satisfied with the program, they would participate in the program again, and they would recommend the program to a friend who was eligible for it. The most commonly reported features of the program that helped create a satisfying experience for students were flexibility of job hours, the opportunity to obtain valuable job skills, and the relationship with their supervisor and coworkers.
- According to students, FWS jobs often made a positive contribution to their studies. Almost half the students said that their FWS job had a positive effect on academic performance with only 7 percent indicating their FWS job negatively affected their academic performance. Students reporting a positive effect most often credited the study and organization skills they gained on their FWS job for this effect. Not surprisingly, the approximately 40 percent of students who indicated that their FWS jobs were related to their academic or career interests were twice as likely to report a positive effect on academic performance than were students in unrelated jobs. Also, students who attended less-than-four-year institutions were more likely to report a positive effect on academic performance than were students at four-year institutions (68 percent versus 45 percent).
- On average, FWS students worked 11 hours per week and were paid $6.10 per hour. Clerical/office work was the most common type of FWS job held by nearly 40 percent of students. Other common FWS jobs included lab/research assistant, resident/student life assistance (e.g., campus security or lifeguard), and library worker. Among the one-third of students who offered a suggestion regarding types of FWS jobs that should be made available to students, 42 percent indicated they wanted more career- and academically-related jobs. More than 25 percent of FWS students had a second job and the majority of these students would have preferred additional hours in their FWS jobs rather than taking on a second job.
- FWS students believe they are receiving the training and supervision required for their jobs. More than 80 percent of students received some type of training for their job and almost all of these students felt the training adequately prepared them for their job. Among the students who did not receive training, more than 90 percent felt they did not need training for their jobs. Similarly, more than 90 percent of students were satisfied with the amount of supervision they received from their FWS employer.
- Institutions generally attempted to match FWS students with jobs. Approximately two-thirds of institutions indicated they matched some or all of their FWS students with jobs. Nearly all institutions matched students to jobs based on the student's employment skills and abilities. Other important factors considered in matching students to jobs (used by at least 65 percent of institutions) were the student's academic program, career goals, and flexibility of hours. Only 30 percent of institutions offered incentives for students to take community service jobs.
- Institutions routinely followed up with employers regarding their FWS students. Three-quarters of institutions reported that they routinely contacted FWS employers during the year, typically initiating multiple contacts. Among institutions routinely contacting employers, more than 90 percent had the impression that the employers were satisfied with their students' level of performance. Institutions were much less likely (only 27 percent did so) to follow up with students regarding their satisfaction with the FWS program.
- Experience with FWS community service jobs should positively affect students' future participation in community service activities. Approximately 10 percent of FWS students characterized their job as a community service job. Of these students, more than 80 percent felt that their FWS community service job would have a positive effect on their future participation in community service activities. Students with community service jobs were also more likely to report that their jobs were related to their academic program and their career interests.
- Both institutions and students reported a high level of interest and satisfaction in participating in America Reads. During 1997-98, 40 percent of FWS institutions participated in America Reads. Participation was particularly high among four-year public institutions where two-thirds joined America Reads during its first year of operation. Among the 60 percent of FWS institutions not participating in America Reads in 1997-98, 17 percent indicated they would participate in 1998-99 and another 30 percent said they would participate at a later time. Among institutions participating in America Reads, approximately 90 percent indicated they were satisfied with their relationship with the schools or organization where FWS students were tutoring and no institutions reported being dissatisfied with their relationship.
Only three percent of students participated in America Reads in the fall of 1998. Among those students not participating, more than three-quarters indicated they were unaware of America Reads. However, after being read a short description of the initiative, almost 70 percent of students indicated they would be interested in participating in America Reads in the future.
Copies of this report are available by contacting the U.S. Department of Education's Publication Center in the following ways: Toll-free phone calls to 1-877-4ED-Pubs (1-877-433-7827), TTY/TDD call 1-877-576-7734. If 877 is not yet available in your area, call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327), TTY/TDD call 1-800-437-0833; via internet at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html; via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; via fax to 301-470-1244; and, via mail to ED Pubs, Education Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1398. This report is also available online at PDF and MS Word .
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Last updated -- October 18, 2001(mjj)