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Federal Work Study

The Federal Work-Study program (FWS) is another campus-based financial aid program, but it vastly differs from other forms of financial aid. This particular program provides much needed money to undergraduate and graduate students, enabling them to round out their total financial aid package by working for the remainder of their allowable aid money. Schools allocate this sort of financial aid for those who have shown adequate financial need. FWS participants not only receive money for their education, but also get on-the-job experience that is often beneficial down the road.

Work Study Overview & Requirements

Most work-study jobs must relate to the student’s major and can be found on campus or with nonprofit organizations. Hourly pay ultimately depends on the job requirements and worker’s qualifications.

However, whether on or off campus, every job will pay at least the federal minimum wage. The number of allowable work-study hours any student may accumulate is closely regulated by the financial aid office in an effort to avoid situations whereby the individual earns more than their established need. Your financial aid adviser can tell you how work schedules are set and what circumstances must exist in order for you to participate in the program. The federal government pays 75 percent of wages, while the employer pays the remaining 25 percent. Schools determine their own deadlines (usually shortly after January 1).

How Do I Determine My Eligibility?

  • You must be working on your first undergraduate or graduate degree
  • You must show adequate financial need, as determined by the school
  • You can attend school full-time, half- time, or less than half-time
  • You must apply before application deadlines have passed
  • You must find a suitable work-study job if the school has not provided one for you
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen

Note: Terms and conditions change periodically.

When students visit their financial aid office, they should be ready to ask about work-study program details. Students may either apply specifically for FWS or it may automatically become part of their financial aid. The actual application process may vary somewhat from school to school, so each student is advised to check with his or her financial aid adviser for details. Deadlines? Every school sets its own, and you must meet them, since campus-based aid dollars are used up quickly.

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