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Evaluations of Federal Financial Aid Information and Delivery Strategies: An Experiment in the Federal Work Study Program to Encourage Student Jobs in the Private Sector

Contract Information

Current Status:

This study is in the design phase.


September 2020 – September 2023, additional task order expected



Contract Number:



Abt Associates


Although most students work while in postsecondary education, those who are lower income are less likely to have jobs connected to their field of study. To address this inequity and promote more private sector partnerships, the Office of Federal Student Aid is conducting an experiment to help participating colleges shift at least some students supported through the Federal Work Study program (FWS) from on-campus to off-campus jobs. Under the experiment, participating schools received additional FWS funds and can seek waivers of certain FWS rules viewed as barriers to expanding students' program-related employment in the private sector — e.g., the maximum hours students may work or share of wages that FWS can pay. The waivers can also be applied to schools' existing clinical rotation, student teaching, and other course-required work programs, as long as FWS continues to serve students with financial needs. This study fulfills a requirement that experiments conducted under the Experimental Sites Initiative of the Higher Education Act be evaluated and the results reported to Congress.

  • What types of colleges participated in the Federal Work Study (FWS) Experiment, which FWS rules were they allowed to waive, and how did they implement those waivers?
  • How does student participation in FWS compare to participation before the FWS experiment and to participation in other similar FWS colleges not in the experiment?
  • Do FWS students in colleges implementing the waivers engage in more private sector employment, earn higher wages in FWS jobs, complete college at higher rates, or borrow less in student loans than do those in similar colleges not implementing the waivers?

This study will describe the participating colleges and students and use a quasi-experimental design to examine how their outcomes change over time compared to colleges not participating in the experiment. The descriptive analysis, including how colleges implemented the FWS waivers, will be based on surveys of participating colleges and data from annual reporting to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). The quasi-experimental analysis will rely on data collected from FSA's student administrative records and annual reporting on campus-based program expenditures.

The first report for the study is expected in 2023 and will be announced on

Key findings will be available after a study report is published.