Work Study

Work Study

While you're attending college, you may find that holding a part-time job can help you cover your tuition, textbook, and other costs. It is even better if that job is on campus because it will be close to where you live and study.

The federal government, through the U.S. Department of Education, has provided funding to college campuses to offer part-time employment to help students cover the expenses of attending school. This program is called Federal Work-Study, or FWS. Like any other job, a federal work-study position will pay you directly, allowing you to use the money as you see best.

To qualify for this employment, you need to be enrolled as a graduate or undergraduate student and demonstrate financial need. The first step to applying for a work-study position is being enrolled in an approved university at least half-time.

What is Federal Work-Study?

The FWS program provides part-time employment funding to assist students in financing the costs of postsecondary education. The federal government provides the funds, which are used by a college to create part-time positions, usually related to a student'€™s major or community service. Institutional financial aid administrators at participating institutions have substantial flexibility in determining the amount of work-study awards to provide to students.

Frequently Asked Questions About Work Study

How much can I earn?

Hourly wages for an FWS position are at least federal minimum wage, which according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is currently $7.25 per hour. However, you may earn more than that based on the type of work, your skills, your financial need, and your college's available funding.

How do I qualify for FWS?

You need to demonstrate that you need help paying for college. Financial need is determined by the U.S. Department of Education through your FAFSA application and your estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The EFC is calculated based on your income and assets if you are independent, or your parents’ income and assets if you are still a dependent. Basically, your financial need is the EFC subtracted from how much it costs to attend your chosen college.

After your FAFSA is evaluated, your college will receive a copy of your EFC to determine your financial need.

Where can I find work-study programs?

More than 3,400 colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education offer work-study programs. Generally, the work is done on-campus; however, some schools offer off-campus positions.

Most off-campus FWS employers are non-profits and focus on serving the community, such as a literacy or math tutor. But, some colleges work with private employers, and these jobs must be relevant to your major.

How will I be paid?

Undergraduate students are paid hourly, while graduate students may be paid hourly or by salary, depending on the type of work. Your college is required to pay you directly at least monthly. Some schools will allow you to take expenses, such as tuition, fees, and housing directly from your paycheck. The number of hours you work each week will be determined by your institution based on need, funding, and work availability.

How do I apply for FWS?

If you would like to participate in the Federal Work-Study program, you can indicate your interest on the FAFSA application form. This information is then transmitted to your chosen school for coordination with the school's administrative office overseeing the work-study programs. Click here complete the FAFSA.

How can I spend my earnings?

The money you earn through a work-study program can be used to pay any expenses. The money does not have to be paid back and it is not regulated. Your income received from FWS does not have to be used to pay for tuition, textbooks, materials, fees, or any other expenses of attending college. You may use the money for food, transportation, entertainment, or any other purpose you choose.