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Education and Training

Work Study COVID-19 FAQs

FAQs for Work Study Site Supervisors   

Public Law 116-140 provided the allowance of the continuation of Work Study payments: Work Study payments may continue during the period March 1, 2020 through December 21, 2020, in the case of an individual who was in receipt of Work Study payments but is unable to continue to perform the qualifying Work Study activities. In the instances when the student is unable to perform the qualifying work, the payment will continue at the rate of 25 hours per week through the enrollment period AND the student may also request a new contract for additional periods of employment. However, Work Study students who elect not to work when a work site is operational, shall not be paid Work Study benefits.

Public Law 116-159 (section 5202) was signed September 30, 2020 extending Public Law 116-140 (all sections) through December 21, 2021. For contracts which began prior to March 1, 2020, work-study hours are protected beginning on March 1, 2020. For contracts that began after March 1, 2020, work-study hours are protected beginning after September 30, 2020.

Q1) I’m a Site Supervisor and our site could no longer offer and/or had to reduce work hours for our Work Study student due to COVID-19. What do I need to do to ensure the student receives Work Study payments?

SCENARIO 1: Work Study Contract began BEFORE March 1, 2020.

If, on or after March 1, 2020, your site could no longer offer or had to reduce the work hours to your Work Study student (with an active contract that spanned March 1, 2020), you may submit a time record via the GI Bill Ask a Question site for each week the student was denied work or had their work hours reduced. The student must still meet the basic eligibility requirements for Work Study.

On the student’s time record you must report the date when the student was no longer able to work or had their work hours reduced. When filling out the time record, please write “COVID”, next to the initials for the periods for which you’re requesting payment. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay 25 hours per week for a student that has been unable to work or had their hours reduced due to COVID-19.

For retroactive payments back to March 1, 2020 or when the student’s employment was first impacted, submit a time record with weekly entries of 25 hours (regardless of actual reduced hours) along with the accompanying COVID remark as described above. VA is unable to pay future dates, so you must continue to add subsequent dates to the time record (using the COVID remark) as needed until normal work resumes or the student’s contract ends.

When a Work Study Site Supervisor reports a student who falls under scenario 1 has a reduction in hours or is unable to work due to reasons associated with COVID-19 (i.e. site is closed, work was limited to interaction with others, etc.) the student will be paid 25 hours per week, every two weeks, until the restrictions surrounding this qualifying work are lifted, the student’s contract ends, the total approved contract hours are reached, or December 21, 2021, whichever occurs first. 

SCENARIO 1, EXAMPLE A:
Today is May 5, 2020. A student has a contract which began January 13, 2020 through May 13, 2020. The contract was approved for 400 hours. The student worked beginning January 15, 2020 to March 18, 2020, working a total of 159 hours. Effective March 19, 2020, the site closed temporarily. The student was able to work remotely but only 10 hours per week (normally worked 18 hours per week). For each week since March 19, the Site Supervisor will record 25 hours with the remark “COVID” through the end of the contract or until the student was able to resume regular duties as listed under his contract.

SCENARIO 1, EXAMPLE B:
Today is May 5, 2020. A student has a contract which began January 13, 2020 through May 13, 2020. The contract was approved for 400 hours. The student worked beginning January 15, 2020 to March 18, 2020, working a total of 159 hours. Effective March 19, 2020, the site had to utilize remote work and the student was no longer able to work. For the week beginning March 19, the Site Supervisor will record 25 hours with the remark “COVID” through the end of the contract or until the student was able to resume regular duties as listed under the contract.  

SCENARIO 2: Work Study Contract began AFTER March 1, 2020.

If your site could no longer offer or had to reduce the work hours for your Work Study student and they worked at least 1 hour on the contract, you may submit a time record for each week the student’s hours were affected. The student must still meet the basic eligibility requirements for Work Study.

On the student’s time record you must report the date the student was no longer able to work or had their work hours reduced. When filling out the time record, please write “COVID”, next to the initials for the periods in which you’re requesting payment. VA will pay 25 hours per week on or after October 1, 2020 for a student that has been unable to work or had their hours reduced due to COVID-19 until:
   
   • the restrictions surrounding this qualifying work are lifted,
   • the student’s contract ends,
   • the total approved contract hours are reached, or
   • December 21, 2021, whichever occurs first. 

SCENARIO 2, EXAMPLE A:
Today is October 15, 2020. A student has a contract which began June 15, 2020 through August 1, 2020. The contract was approved for 175 hours and the student was able to work through all of it with no impact to their hours due to COVID. The contract was extended through Fall 2020 enrollment for 400 hours. The student continued to work until September 14, 2020 when the site was affected by COVID-19 and had to utilize remote work where the student was no longer able to work. This student is entitled to the COVID-19 payments beginning October 1, 2020.

SCENARIO 2, EXAMPLE B:
A student has a contract which began August 15, 2020, through December 15, 2020. The contract was approved for 400 hours. The student started working on August 16, 2020. Effective November 5, 2020, the site closed temporarily due to COVID. The student was able to work remotely but at a reduced rate of only 10 hours a week. For each week since November 5, the Site Supervisor will record 25 hours with the remark “COVID” through the end of the contract or until the student was able to resume regular duties as listed under the contract.

SCENARIO 2, EXAMPLE C:
A student has a contract which began August 15, 2020, through December 15, 2020. The contract was approved for 400 hours. Effective November 5, 2020, the site closed temporarily due to COVID. The student did not work any hours before November 5, 2020. The student would not be eligible for COVID pay under PL 116-159 since a minimum of 1 hour had not been worked from the start of this contract. 

Q2) I’m a Site Supervisor and my Work Study student is enrolled in Winter 2020 courses and would normally work during this period. Is my student able to have a Work Study contract for their winter session term even though currently, our facility can only offer work in a limited capacity?

Yes, if the student had an active contract on the day the work was no longer available, you may request a contract extension or submit a new Work Study application for the subsequent enrollment period. The Work Study team will approve the new contract (or extension) as usual and you, the Site Supervisor, will submit time records, every two weeks, for 25 hours weekly (with the remark “COVID”) until the student can resume working normally. For those sites that have limitations on receiving signatures/initials, please see Question 8 below.

Q3) I’m a Site Supervisor and my Work Study student is requesting a contract for the Spring 2021 term. The student is enrolled and eligible for Work Study benefits during the Fall 2020 term; however, we haven’t yet requested an extension for them. Presently, we’re unable to offer full work hours to the student. Will the student continue to receive the 25-hour per week payments during their Spring 2021 contract if the COVID-19 emergency continues?

The Work Study team will write a contract for the student based on enrollment. Work Study students can continue to receive the payment for 25 hours through December 21, 2021, if the emergency situation continues to reduce the available work hours.

Q4) My former Work Study student didn’t return to school. I have limited work hours available now but hope our school returns to business as usual this coming spring. Can I hire a new student to do Work Study for the Spring 2021 term? 

New Work Study students that have a contract on or after March 1, 2020, can receive new Work Study contracts for Spring 2021. Those students who worked at least 1 hour before the school implemented restricted hours due to COVID-19 would be eligible to receive the 25 hours per week payments when unable to work due to COVID-19.

Q5) My work site does have work available for my Work Study students. A Work Study student with a qualifying contract on or after March 1, 2020, has opted to not work for reasons other than COVID related concerns. Can this student receive the 25 hours per week continued payments? 

No. The law authorizes VA to pay otherwise eligible Work Study students 25 hours per week only for COVID related reasons through December 21, 2021. The COVID related concern can be school specific or based on the student’s personal circumstances.

Q6) I have a Work Study Student who had an active contract on (or after) March 1, 2020 and worked before our school went completely online again due to increased COVID-19 cases on campus. I understand this student will be eligible to receive the 25 hours per week COVID-19 payments. If our school resumes normal in-person training and the Work Study student resumes normal work, but we must later return to online only, can the Work Student receive the 25 hours per week again?

Yes, as long as the Work Study contract is active and the student resumes normal work (at least one hour worked), the student can receive the 25 hours per week COVID-19 payments again. This student will be paid 25 hours per week, every two weeks, until:

   • the restrictions surrounding this qualifying work are lifted,
   • the student’s contract ends,
   • the total approved contract hours are reached, or
   • December 21, 2021, whichever occurs first.

Q7) Can a Work Study student who is no longer working for an approved Work Study site obtain unemployment through the state? 

Unemployment benefits questions need to be directed to your state or local unemployment office. Those offices make the final determination on all unemployment benefits.

Q8) My Work Study student and I are not in the same location. How can I get the required signature on their contract or initials on their timecard?  

If the timecard and/or signed contract cannot be initialed/signed by the student due to a special circumstance and the student did work/review the signed contract, the Site Supervisor may submit the timecard and confirm that the student was unable to initial it due to COVID-19 circumstances and the student understands the signed contract and/or worked the hours submitted to VA.

If special circumstances prevent the Site Supervisor from initialing the timecard, the Site Supervisor can submit the timecard and confirm the student worked as reported. The Site Supervisor remains responsible for making sure the student is working on approved tasks. Please maintain concise records of how hours worked were verified (e.g. the student sent their supervisor an email when logging in and out; the Site Supervisor verifies the completed work submitted that the student did complete the tasks within the timeframe indicated on the timecard; the site has a virtual tracking system of when the student is actively logged into a computer system and working, etc.).  

Q9) I have a student who qualified for COVID-19 payments under PL 116-140; when will their COVID-19, 25 hours per week, payments end under PL 116-140?

COVID-19 payments for Work Study students eligible under PL116-140 will end when one of the following happens:

   • the restrictions surrounding this qualifying work are lifted,
   • the student’s contract ends,
   • the total approved contract hours are reached, or
   • December 21, 2021, whichever occurs first.