Service Obligation Requirement

U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) - Office of Special Education Programs
The University of Toledo – Judith Herb College of Education
Project LEA


 According to section 662(h) of the federal law IDEA (see 34 CFR part 304), graduate students who receive scholarship assistance (e.g., tuition, stipend) from projects funded under IDEA are required to complete a service obligation. They must agree to work, after graduation, for a specified amount of time in the field of study for which they were supported (i.e., special education for Project LEA).  If a student drops out of the LEA graduate degree program at any time prior to completion of degree requirements, or secures other employment that is not related to special education, before they have completed the specified amount of time required, they must pay back to USDOE the funds they received while enrolled in Project LEA.

 If you are accepted into Project LEA, you must sign a Pre-Scholarship Agreement verifying your knowledge of, and agreement to, the terms and conditions of this requirement. Prior to your final acceptance, Project LEA staff will meet with you via conference call to ensure that you fully understand the Service Obligation requirements.

 The following information outlines the key aspects of the Service Obligation requirement. Please visit the USDOE website for a full list of FAQs and information on the service obligation requirement:

How long do you have to work in special education after you have graduated from the grant program of study?

  • For each academic year or equivalent that you receive scholarship assistance, you must maintain the equivalent of full-time employment in special education for 2 years.  You can work part-time during your service obligation period.

How much time do you have to complete the service obligation requirement?

  • The period of time is equal to the number of years of your service obligation years with an additional five-year grace period.  For example, a 3 year service obligation plus 5 yrs grace time = 8 years. If you work part-time, the same total period of time applies.

How will you know how much USDOE scholarship assistance you received during your participation in Project LEA?

  • When you complete the LEA program of study, UT will provide you with an ‘Exit Certification’, which will specify the total amount of tuition and stipend monies you have received. The Exit Certification will also include the period of time of your service obligation, and the amount of time you have, from graduation, to complete the requirement. You must sign an agreement that verifies this amount, and provide updated contact information where you can be reached by the USDOE.

How does the USDOE keep track of the funds you received and the length of your employment?

  • When you are accepted into Project LEA, UT (via LEA project staff) will enter your name and contact information into a database maintained by the National Center on Service Obligations (NCSO) under contract with the USDOE.  UT staff will update the amount of funding you have received, your current graduate student status (e.g., ‘continuing student’), and provide the USDOE with contact information, during each year you are enrolled in Project LEA. When you have completed the requirements for the Ed. Specialist degree and graduated from UT, the NCSO will contact you with instructions on how to proceed to track your service obligation requirement. 
Last Updated: 6/9/16