7.6 What do I do when a participant is already in school when he or she comes to WorkFirst?

Created on: 
Jul 24 2017

Revised On: July 1, 2021

Legal References:

This section includes:

  • 7.6.1 Information needed
  • 7.6.2 Type of training and institution

This section of the handbook contains guidelines for a WFPS/WFSSS to ensure participants enrolled in, or attending, education and training at the time of their WorkFirst application meet their participation requirements. Participants enrolled in school might be receiving financial aid or loans.  

7.6.1 Information Needed

WorkFirst participation consists of numerous types of countable training options.

When participants already engaged in education and training apply for cash assistance and come to WorkFirst, the WFPS/WFSSS must determine:

  • The type of training and training institution the participant attends;
  • If the training is full-time or part-time;
  • Weekly hours of education and training they attend; and
  • If the participants are working (part-time job, work-study, internship).

To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the participant is in the education and training activities, including classes, labs, supervised study halls/tutoring sessions, and up to one hour of unsupervised study time for every hour of class time. Total homework time counted for participation can’t exceed the hours required or advised by their educational program.

Full-time participation is generally 32-40 hours per week (See WFHB 1.2.2 Required Participation).  Participants may need to combine work or a work-like activity with their educational program to meet their participation requirement if they aren’t already working. See WFHB 1.2.2 for additional information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) when possible. In most cases, vocational education will meet the strengthened participation requirements, but add an additional three hours core or non-core when necessary.

The WFPS/WFSSS may refer the participant to the following to assist them in obtaining work:

  • Job search,
  • Subsidized employment,
  • Unpaid work experience, or
  • College(s) to see if there are work-study positions available.

The participant must find a part-time job within 30 days in order to continue in their education and training when the education and training program doesn’t meet WorkFirst participation requirements.

For information regarding work-like activities, see chapters 4.1, 4.2,, 8.4 and 8.5.

7.6.2 Type of training and institution

Participants enrolled in vocational education may qualify under numerous activities. Participants attending a Washington State community or technical college may qualify for Vocational Education, Customized Jobs Skills Training, I-BEST, or High Wage, High Demand Training. Participants enrolled in an education program at an institution other than a Washington State community or technical college, may meet the Vocational Education or High Wage, High Demand Training requirements. Refer to Section 7.2 Vocational Education to determine the appropriate activity.

Other Education

  • Countable Non-core Activities: Participants enrolled in basic education or Skills Enhancement (JT), GED preparation (HS, GE), or High School completion (HS, BE), may also count these educational activities toward non-core participation. However, consider High School Completion or Equivalency for participants 19 years of age or younger (HS) as core activities. The WFPS/WFSSS must attempt to engage the participant in core activities to meet the participation requirement.
    For dependent teens/teen parents/unmarried parenting minors, please refer to Chapters 1.2 and 5.1 for participation requirements and 7.2 for education and training activities. For all others, please refer to 7.3 to determine the participant's participation requirements.
  • Degree Completion: If a participant is within 12 months of completing a degree, up to a baccalaureate degree, Degree Completion may be an option -See Chapter 7.2.
  • Vocational Education Unapproved: If a participant is more than 12 months* away from finishing an educational program, Vocational Education Unapproved programs may be an option - See Chapter 7.4. For this program, there is a requirement that a participant meet their work or work-like activity requirement. The WFPS/WFSSS needs to discuss work requirements and reduction of support services, including childcare, with this activity.
  • English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL): If the participant engages in language instruction such as ESL, refer to the LEP section of the handbook.

    WorkFirst will make every effort to assist participants in meeting the requirements of participation so they may remain in school. If not already participating on a full-time basis, generally 32-40 hours per week, the WFPS/WFSSS must take action to engage the participants in full-time WorkFirst activities.  See WFHB 1.2.2 for information about adding an additional three hours (preferably core activity hours) in the participant’s Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) when possible. If the participants don’t comply, they may face sanction for non-participation.

*Note: The department may increase the 12-month education limit to 24 months subject to funding appropriated specifically for this purpose.  The department has funding for this extension through SFY 2019.  See section 7.2.15 What is the Vocational Education Extension?


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