CSU Taps Federal Program to Aid Communities, Support Students

(March 3, 2003) While the California State University provides affordable access to a high quality education, students continually need money to support their goal of completing their college degrees. Instead of working at the local retail store, however, millions of students from around the country are receiving financial support while serving their communities through the Federal Work-Study Program (FWS).

In 2001-02, the California State University devoted more than $4.5 million from the federal program to support thousands of qualified students by providing them with community service opportunities for part-time work connected to their career interests.

For example, Leticia Uphoff, a student at Fresno State, spends up to 10 hours a week helping needy preschool children get ready for kindergarten. As an AmeriCorps member with the Jumpstart for Young Children Inc., she believes that her job serving low-income parents adds an engaging dimension to her academic experience. Leticia says, "I want every child I work with to feel special at least once a day, every day."

Leticia's experience illustrates a typical community service placement supported by the FWS. The program started in 1965 to provide financially needy students with part-time work that connects with their career interests. The community-service portion of the program seeks, in the words of the 1992 Higher Education Amendment, to "benefit the nation and engender in the students a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the community."

"Work study has proven to be invaluable for my situation," Leticia Uphoff added. "I can work part-time and go to school full-time while being able to fulfill my family responsibilities. Without work study, I probably wouldn't be in school right now."

The legislation also called for each campus to allocate a minimum 7 percent of the federal funds to providing students with community service opportunities. These placements are designed to meet the needs of the local community and include the work of nonprofit organizations, government entities, and tutoring programs. Leaders in Washington, including President Bush, have called for increasing the minimum percentage requirement for community service placements.

The FWS program is one way the CSU is helping students find a way to serve. The CSU places, on average, 22 percent of its FWS program students in community service, well above the national average of 14 percent and triple the minimum requirement. Some campuses do even better.

For example, CSU Sacramento devotes 48.5 percent of its FWS yearly allocation to community service; much of that supports the tutoring program, America Reads. Other CSU campuses with noteworthy community service numbers include Fresno State (40.9 percent), CSU Monterey Bay (35.9 percent), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (28.2 percent), and CSU San Bernardino (27.9 percent).

These high percentages demonstrate the commitment of CSU campuses to serve local communities while enriching their students' college experience. In tight budget times, the CSU will be looking for programs that can financially support affordable access for students. If the 2001 budget is any indication, the FWS program continues to be a viable resource. In 2001, its budget was $1.011 billion, which represents a 100 percent increase over the past four years.

"At a time of fiscal challenges for both higher education and for communities throughout the country, using federal work study to support students who are doing community service is a smart approach for students, local campuses, and their home communities," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

To learn how CSU campuses are supporting the community service aspect of the Federal Work- Study program and the dynamic community service-learning initiatives, contact the Office of Community Service Learning in the CSU Chancellor's Office at (562) 951-4749.

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Last Updated: 4 March 2003

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