What is the CWSP?

The Community Work-Study Program is sponsored by the Cornell University Public Service Center (PSC) to enable Cornell Federal Work-Study students to work for nonprofit organizations, schools, and municipalities in the Ithaca and Tompkins County region. 

Opportunities are offered in a variety of areas, including the arts, education, daycare, environmental programs, health services, legal services, programs for the elderly, public works and engineering departments, women's organizations, and youth programs.

Each year an average of 300 students are placed in work-study positions in the local community. 


The U.S. Department of Education, which governs the Federal Work Study program (FWS), stipulates that colleges and universities must make students aware of community service opportunities by encouraging them to get involved in community service activities.  The university must use at least 7% of its FWS allocation to employ students in community service jobs. Employing FWS students in these positions serves the needs of the community and gives the students an enriching and rewarding experience. 

To further encourage schools and other eligible organizations to employ FWS students  the America Reads Challenge and America Counts Challenge (ARC/C) programs were created, through which FWS funds 100% of the students' wages. 

How Are "Community Services" Defined?

  • Community Service is defined as improving the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs.
  • Fields related to health, literacy training, education, welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, rural development, and community improvement
  • A student does not have to provide a “direct” service. The student must provide services that are designed to improve the quality of life for community residents or to solve particular problems related to those residents’ needs
  • Work done must benefit communities within the continental United States
  • A university or college is not considered a community for the purposes of the FWS community service requirements. On-campus jobs can meet the definition of community services, provided the work is designed to improve the quality of life for off campus community residents, or to solve problems related to their needs
  • Wages can be subsidized with 75-100% work study depending upon employer and position.  Off-campus positions are subsidized 75-100% dependent upon a number of factors.

  •  On-campus positions require the department paying the remaining 25% from departmental funding once the position is determined to be a community work study placement