Improving Postsecondary Access for Rural America

Title: Expanding Federal Work-Study Opportunities for California Community College Students

Authors: The Campaign for College Opportunity

Source: The Campaign for College Opportunity

A new research brief by the Campaign for College Opportunity provides insight into the opportunities and challenges of Federal Work-Study (FWS) in California’s community colleges.

According to the report, many of the state’s community college students do not receive FWS because they do not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a requirement to determine FWS eligibility. Nationally, eight in 10 community college students work while going to class (39 percent of them work full-time). In California, less than 1 percent of the almost 2.1 million students in the community colleges receive FWS aid.

Insights from the brief include ways to better leverage the allocated FWS dollars community colleges receive from the federal government. The brief suggests that at an institutional level, financial aid offices should spend their entire FWS allocation, which may help colleges increase that allocation in subsequent years. Other strategies include outreach and partnerships with onboarding community college offices to ensure eligible students complete the FAFSA.

Further recommendations highlighted in the brief include:

  1. Revising the funding formula for campus-based programs at the federal level to prioritize institutions enrolling larger populations of students with economic need.
  2. Requiring FAFSA completion statewide across the community college system.
  3. Prioritizing students with the greatest need for FWS outreach.
  4. Using data to inform state and federal FWS policy.
  5. Building partnerships with career development agencies.
  6. Leveraging virtual FWS opportunities (ie. peer mentoring) amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

To learn more about these recommendations in detail, read the full report here.

—Ángel Gonzalez

Higher Education Today