Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA enters third year of federal work-study program supporting off-campus employment

UTSA enters third year of federal work-study program supporting off-campus employment

JANUARY 11, 2023 — The 2022-2023 academic year marks the third and final year of UTSA’s participation in an experimental federal program that has allowed the university to pay work-study-eligible students for off-campus work experience. UTSA was one of 190 institutions selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Work-Study Experimental Sites program.

In total, UTSA received $1.3 million over the last three years, which enabled nearly 400 students to be paid for off-campus work experiences, including those that are required by their academic programs, such as apprenticeships, internships, externships and clinical rotations.

The funds have supported students in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development’s Teacher Certification Program. These students are expected to complete hands-on placements in a classroom before they graduate. Oftentimes this includes a full semester of student teaching or other in-classroom experience, however most of the time schools are unable to pay students for their time. This is where the Federal Work-Study Experimental Sites program funding has been especially helpful.


“The students are improving their marketable skills through real-world experience in their areas of interest and then tying it back to their academic learning.”



The university has also allocated the funds to students completing off-campus internships through the UTSA Rowdy Corps program. Offered through the UTSA Office of Civic and Community-Engaged Leadership, Rowdy Corps provides students opportunities for learning and leadership development by placing them to work with local nonprofits.

“This unique federal program enables work-study-eligible students to go beyond campus work-study jobs and pursue community-based experiential learning and professional development alongside San Antonio's non-profit and public serving agencies during their academic journey at UTSA,” said Civic and Community-Engaged Leadership director Maria Alejandro. “The experiment funds greatly enhanced support for the Rowdy Corps Community Scholars program to keep them working at their community nonprofit organizations through their academic year.”

The Federal Work-Study Experimental Sites program advances the university’s Classroom to Career Initiative by allowing UTSA students to seek a broader range of employment opportunities that better align with their academic goals and career aspirations and ultimately providing them with a greater understanding of marketable skills needed in the workplace.

“The type of work that this program supports is particularly valuable,” said Ginnifer Cie Gee, associate vice provost of career-engaged learning. “The students are improving their marketable skills through real-world experience in their areas of interest and then tying it back to their academic learning.”

To be selected for the experiment, schools needed to show a strong record in Title IV administration and demonstrate strong standards of financial responsibility.

This program is designed to help the U.S. Department of Education assess the benefits to students when they are paid for off-campus work study employment aligned with their program, as measured by student retention, graduation rates, reduced student borrowing and improved employment opportunities. The experiment will provide important data to inform future policy proposals.

Gee hopes that UTSA’s participation will ultimately help lead to permanent improvements in the Federal Work Study program.

Matthew Boerger



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