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May 1, 2006

New OPM Regulations Make It Easier to Convert Participants of HACU’s Intern and Coop Programs for Federal Employment

Washington, DC – The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued new regulations that give interns at federal agencies credit toward full-time employment.  These new regulations were recently published in the Federal Register and will go into effect on May 11, 2006.  

According to Antonio Flores, President and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), “This is a huge victory for us and others who have been at the forefront of trying to change federal regulations.”  Now hours HACU National Internship Program students work during federal internships can count towards noncompetitive conversion when they apply for permanent federal positions.  “This change is also a great step forward in helping the government address the severe under-representation of Hispanics in the federal government,” said Flores.

OPM's new regulations will impact rules associated with the Student Career Educational Program (SCEP), also know as the federal Coop program, in two ways.

First, agencies will now be able to waive up to half of the required hours for noncompetitive conversion for SCEP participants into federal position for students with a grade point average of at least 3.5 and an outstanding performance rating from their agency. Previously, agencies could noncompetitively hire student interns to permanent jobs only after they had completed 640 hours of federal work experience.

This first change will facilitate the hiring process, especially for those students that participate in the HACU Cooperative Education Program (HCEP).  Nearly 60 students have participated in this program since its inception in 2004 and HACU expects this number to increase dramatically over the next several years.

Secondly, the new regulations will allow participants of the HACU National Internship Program (HNIP) to receive up to 320 hours credit for their student work experience.  Previously, if a federal agency wanted to convert a HACU intern into the SCEP program, it could not apply the time that the student had worked as a HACU intern towards the 640 hour requirement converting SCEP students into a permanent employee noncompetitively.  Now federal agencies will be able to apply 320 hours into the 640-hour SCEP requirement.  HACU interns will still need to serve an additional 320 hours under the SCEP program.

In addition, the 320 hours that HACU interns receive credit for are transferable between federal agencies. Lastly, while 320 hours are the maximum that an intern can accumulate, these hours can be accumulated throughout internships in various agencies, not only at one.  This is important because sometimes interns participate in more than one internship.

Since its inception in 1992, the HACU National Internship Program has provided paid internships to nearly 6,000 college students during spring, summer and fall sessions at federal agencies and private corporations in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country.  These ten and fifteen-week internships allow college students to experience the diversity of careers that exist in the federal sectors.  The HACU intern and Coop programs have been identified as a “Best Practice” tool by OPM and the White House for the recruitment of Hispanics into the federal government.  During 2005, HNIP welcomed 600 student participants working in twenty-two federal agencies and nine private corporations, whose average grade point average (GPA) was 3.37 .


About HACU:  The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) was established in 1986 with a founding membership of eighteen institutions.  Today, HACU represents more than 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain and Portugal.  Although their member institutions in the U. S. represent less than 10% of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to more than two-thirds of all Hispanic college students.  HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). HACU is a non-profit organization committed to assuring higher education access and success for Hispanic students. For more information, visit


About OPM:  OPM oversees the federal work force and provides the American public with up-to-date employment information. OPM also supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.