A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Biennial Evaluation Report - FY 93-94

Chapter 505

Federal Work-Study Program

(CFDA No. 84.033)

I. Program Profile

Legislation: Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, Title IV, Part C, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2751-2756a) (expires September 30, 1997).

Purpose: To help financially needy undergraduate and graduate students to meet the costs of their education at participating postsecondary institutions by helping institutions to provide on-and off-campus part-time employment for students. The funds appropriated pay a portion of the students' salaries in Federal Work-Study jobs.

Funding History

Fiscal Year Appropriation Fiscal Year Appropriation
1965 $ 55,710,000 1986 $567,023,000
1970 152,460,000 1987 592,500,000
1975 420,000,000 1988 588,249,000
1980 550,000,000 1989 610,097,000
1981 550,000,000 1990 601,765,000
1982 528,000,000 1991 594,689,000
1983 590,000,000 1992 615,000,000
1984 555,000,000 1993 616,508,000
1985 592,500,000 1994 616,508,000

II. Program Information and Analysis

Performance Indicators

An important indicator of how well the Federal Work Study's Program is assisting needy postsecondary students is the targeting of Federal Work Study (FWS) awards. The following chart shows one measure of targeting: the percentage of full-time dependent and independent postsecondary students who received FWS awards by income category. As shown, 22 percent of dependent low-income students and 14 percent of independent low-income students received FWS awards in 1990, a far greater percentage than in the middle- or high-income categories. Among dependent students, a slightly larger percentage benefitted from the program in 1990 than in 1987 in all income categories. There was a slight decline in the percentage of independent low- and middle-income students, while among high-income independent students, the percentage receiving awards increased.
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Population Targeting and Services

Federal Work-Study jobs are available to undergraduate and graduate students who attend participating postsecondary institutions and meet certain other criteria (e.g., have a high school diploma or its equivalent or have passed an exam approved by the Secretary of Education). Students must also demonstrate financial need based on the cost of education and the ability of the student and they family to pay this cost. The calculation of need is based on a Congressionally specified formula. Final eligibility and award amounts are determined by the postsecondary institution based on the amount of funds available at the institution and the institution's aid-packaging policy.

The FWS program, with the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program, are collectively referred to as "Campus-Based Programs" because the institution determines which eligible students receive awards and how much they receive.

Participation: According to program data, 714,440 students received FWS awards averaging $1,092 in the 1992-93 award year (the most recent year for which data are available). This is an increase from the previous year when 697,304 students received awards averaging $1,090.

Distribution by Sector: Institutional participation in the program has decreased slightly: in 1992-93, a total of 3,620 institutions received program funds while 3,819 participated in 1991-92.

Table 1 shows the distribution of FWS funds by type of institution between 1992-93 and 1983-84, when these data were first collected. The percentage of funds going to public, private nonprofit, and proprietary institutions has changed only slightly throughout this period, with public institutions receiving slightly more than half of all funds disbursed in 1992-93 (approximately 53 percent), private nonprofit institutions receiving the next largest share (approximately 44 percent), and proprietary institutions receiving a very small portion of funds (approximately 2 percent).

Table 1

Percentage Distribution of FWS Dollars Earned by Type of Institution
Award Years 1983-84 to 1992-93

Award Year Public Private Nonprofit Proprietary
1992-93 53.4 44.4 2.2
1991-92 52.4 45.5 2.1
1990-91 52.8 45.0 2.2
1989-90 54.5 43.1 2.4
1988-89 54.4 43.3 2.3
1987-88 54.9 42.6 2.5
1986-87 56.3 42.0 1.8
1985-86 55.8 42.8 1.4
1984-85 56.6 42.1 1.3
1983-84 56.6 41.9 1.6

Source: III. 1.

Distribution by Dependency Status and Educational Level: During the mid-1980s, increasing shares of program funds were awarded to dependent undergraduates, while the portion of funds going to graduate students was decreasing. These trends appear to have stabilized in the past few years (Table 2). In 1992-93, undergraduates received approximately 90 percent of all FWS funds, and nearly 63 percent of funds awarded to undergraduates were awarded to dependent students.

Table 2

Percentage Distribution of FWS Dollars Earned by Undergraduates by Dependency Status
Award Years 1983-84 to 1992-93

Award Year Dependent Independent
1992-93 62.7 27.3
1991-92 68.7 26.6
1990-91 69.7 25.4
1989-90 69.6 25.7
1988-89 69.8 25.6
1987-88 71.3 24.2
1986-87 64.5 26.8
1985-86 63.8 25.9
1984-85 64.1 25.8
1983-84 64.7 25.2

Source: III.1.

Distribution by Income: The percentages of recipients, total aid, and average awards vary by type of student and level of family income (see Tables 3 and 4.) In 1991-92, the average award for dependent undergraduates was $1,001 while the average award for independent undergraduates was 14.1% larger ($1,144). Graduate students received the largest awards, however, with an average amount ($2,000) almost double that of undergraduate students. Due to large award sizes, graduate students receive a disproportionate share of FWS funds. Although they constituted only 4.8 percent of all recipients, graduate students received 9.0 percent of all program funds.

For dependent undergraduate students, the percentage of recipients across income levels closely mirrors the percentage of aid distributed across the same income levels. Among dependent undergraduate students, approximately 53 percent of FWS recipients and dollars are awarded for families with income below $30,000. The highest average award for dependent undergraduates is for those students whose family income is between $24,000 and $30,000. The average award for family income $24,000 - $30,000 is $1,049; for family income $18,000 - $24,000 is $1,044; and for family income $12,000 - $18,000 is $1,029.

Table 3

Percent Distribution of FWS Awards by Dependency and Graduate Status for All Students -- 1992-93 Award Year

Dependent Undergraduate Independent Undergraduate Graduate Students All Students
Percent Distribution of Recipients 68.3 26.0 5.7 100.0
Percent Distribution of Aid 62.6 27.3 10.1 100.0
Average Award $ 1,001 1,144 1,943 1,092

Source: III.1.

Table 4

Percent Distribution of FWS Awards by Family Income for Under Graduate Dependent Students -- 1992-1993 Award Year

Dependent Students
$30,000 + Total
Percent Distribution of Recipients 8.2 9.9 11.2 12.2 11.5 47.0 100.0
Percent Distribution of Aid 7.5 9.8 11.5 12.7 12.2 46.3 100.0
Average Award $ 922 995 1,029 1,044 1,049 986 1001

Source: III.1.

Program Administration

Student eligibility for a FWS award is determined by a statutory formula and the student's need is used in determining the size of the award.

FWS awards are a combination of Federal and institutional contributions. The Federal contribution has changed over the past few years. In award year 1988-89, the Federal contribution could not exceed 80 percent; in 1989-90, the Federal share could not exceed 75 percent; and for award years 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 the Federal share of compensation paid to a student could not exceed 70 percent. For award years 1993-94 and following, the maximum Federal Share is 75 percent. The institutional contribution must usually equal 25 percent. The institutional share may be waived under certain conditions.

The disbursement of FWS awards is a two-step process. First, the Department of Education allocates funds to eligible postsecondary institutions according to a formula that incorporates a guaranteed minimum (based on institutional expenditures in the 1985-86 award year) and increases that reflect students' need. Second, institutions award these funds to eligible students according to their own financial aid packaging policies. Institutions determine which eligible students receive awards and how much they receive.

In addition to wages for students, institutions may use FWS funds for the following purposes:

  1. Up to 25 percent of its FWS allocation for an award year can be transferred to the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program.

  2. The lesser of 10 percent of its FWS allocation or $50,000 may be used to operate or expand the institution's Job Location and Development Program.

  3. Administrative cost allowance may be taken if the institution provided employment to its students in that award year.


Analyses from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (III.2.), by the Department's Planning and Evaluation Service, presented in Table 5, found that: