Each school that participates in the FWS Program is required to expend at least seven percent of its total FWS federal allocation to compensate students employed in community service activities. Also, in meeting that seven percent community service expenditure requirement, 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.
The Secretary may waive one or both of the community service requirements for a school if the school has demonstrated that enforcing the requirement(s) would cause a hardship for the students at that school. The fact that it may be difficult for the school to comply with the requirement(s) is not in and of itself a basis for granting a waiver. [In the past, the Secretary has approved a limited number of waivers when schools were able to demonstrate an exceptional circumstance. For example:
Small FWS Allocation – The school had a very small FWS allocation. The supporting information submitted by the school noted that seven percent of the school’s allocation only provided enough funds for a student to work in a community service job for a short period of time. Therefore, the school was unable to find placement for a student in community service.
Rural Area – The school is in a rural area that is located far from the type of organizations that would normally provide community service jobs. The school provided information that showed that its students lacked the means of transportation to get to the location of the community service jobs. In a similar waiver request in which transportation did exist, a school provided documentation that showed that the transportation costs were extremely high for the students.
Specialized Program – The school offered only a single program of specialized study that required its students to spend extensive amounts of time in classroom and non-classroom academic activities. The school provided information that demonstrated that this specialized educational program did not allow its students to have time for performing community service jobs at the time those work opportunities were available.
A school must submit its waiver request to the Department of Education (the Department) electronically via the eCampus-Based (eCB) Web site at the “Community Service Waiver” link at the top of the “Setup – Change Years/Schools” page.
The school’s waiver request must specify whether the school is requesting a waiver of the seven percent community service requirement, the reading tutors of children or family literacy project requirement, or both. It must also include detailed information to demonstrate that complying with the requirement(s) would cause hardship for the school’s students.
The deadline for electronic submission of a school’s waiver request is 11:59 P.M. (ET) on Friday, April 25, 2014. Transmissions must be completed and accepted by 12:00 midnight.
A waiver request that is received after April 25, 2014 will not be considered.
By July 1, 2014, the Department plans to notify each school via e-mail that a decision has been made regarding its waiver request. In the e-mail, the school will be informed that the Secretary’s decision to approve or deny the school’s waiver request has been posted to the eCB Web site. This e-mail will be sent to the school’s Financial Aid Administrator, as provided in the school’s most recently submitted Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate or as updated via the “Contact Info” page on the eCB Web site.
To access the decision following receipt of this e-mail, log in to the eCB Web site, select the “Self-Service” link from the top navigation bar, and scroll to the “Campus-Based Notifications for All Available Award Years” section. Then, scroll to the “Community Service Waiver” bullet and select the “2014-2015” link next to it.