Work Colleges Program- Federal Guidelines

The Higher Education Amendments of 1992 authorized the Work Colleges Program. Schools that satisfy the definition of “work-college” may apply with the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the program. A work-college may transfer funds from its allocation for the FWS Program and/or Federal Perkins Loan Program to fund the school’s Work Colleges Program.

The Work Colleges Program recognizes, encourages, and promotes the use of comprehensive work-learning programs as a valuable educational approach when used as an integral part of the school’s educational program and as a part of a financial plan that decreases reliance on grants and loans. The program also encourages students to participate in community service activities.

The term “work-college” is defined as an eligible institution that:

  • Is a public or private nonprofit school with a commitment to community service.
  • Has operated a comprehensive work-learning program for at least two years.
  • Provides students participating in the comprehensive work-learning program with the opportunity to contribute to their education and to the welfare of the community as a whole.
  • Requires all students who reside on campus to participate in a comprehensive work-learning program.
  • Requires providing services as an integral part of the school’s educational program and as part of the school’s educational philosophy.

A “comprehensive work-learning program” is defined as a student work/service program that:

  • Is an integral and stated part of the institution’s educational philosophy and program.
  • Requires participation of all resident students for enrollment, participation, and graduation.
  • Includes learning objectives, evaluation*, and a record of work performance as part of the student’s college record.
  • Provides programmatic leadership by college personnel at levels comparable to traditional academic programs.
  • Recognize the educational role of work-learning supervisors.
  • Includes consequences for nonperformance or failure in the work-learning program similar to the consequences for failure in the regular academic program.

*See the section on assessment for further details.