Federal Student Aid Work-Study (FWS) Program

The Federal Student Aid Work-Study (FWS) Program has been designed to help students obtain part time employment while they are studying. The Federal Work–Study jobs help students earn money to pay for college or career school.


The schools are responsible for the placement of the students as well as the administration of the program. The number and amount of awards largely depend on the needs of the students and the funding availability of the school.


The Federal Work Study Program allows students to earn while studying by working within the campus or at an off campus nonprofit organization. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/work-study


The FWS Program provides funds for part time employment to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education. The students can receive the FWS funds from approximately 3,400 participating postsecondary institutions. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage.


A participating institution applies each year for FWS funding by submitting a Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) to the U.S. Department of Education.


Using a statutory formula, the Department allocates funds based on the institution’s previous funding level and the aggregate need of eligible students in attendance in the prior year.


In most cases, the school or the employer must pay up to a 50 percent share of a student’s wages under FWS. (In some cases, such as FWS jobs as reading or mathematics tutors, the federal share of the wages can be as high as 100 percent.)


Students may be employed by: the institution itself; a federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit organization.


Institutions must use at least 7% of their Work- Study allocation to support students working in community service jobs, including: reading tutors for preschool age or elementary school children; mathematics tutors for students enrolled in elementary school through ninth grade; literacy tutors in a family literacy project performing family literacy activities; or emergency preparedness and response.




To be accepted for this Work Study scholarship, you must

  • Be an undergraduate or graduate student
  • Meet and maintain the Federal and the university’s financial aid eligibility requirements
  • Submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Complete the verification process



The Work Study program provides jobs for students with financial need without taking a loan to pay for their college education. Depending on the type of work and required skills, you could be paid by the federal minimum wage or higher.


This award depends on the school’s available funds, the application date, and the student’s expressed level of financial need. The Federal Work-Study provides part time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.



Here’s a quick overview of Federal Work-Study:


  • It provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school.
  • It’s available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need.
  • It’s available to full-time or part-time students.
  • It’s administered by schools participating in the Federal Work-Study Program. Check with your school’s financial aid office to find out if your school participates.



The undergraduate students are usually paid hourly. However, there is no such thing as paid by commission. The school may pay the student directly at least once a month.




The amount that any student may earn should not exceed the approved total Work Study award. The financial aid administrator needs to take the class schedule and academic progress into consideration.


The on-campus work is provided by the school and within the school while the off-campus work is provided by private or nonprofit organizations.


For off-campus work, the nature of the work should be in the public interest. This program has been around since it was implemented by the Congress in 1964.


Even though it won’t pay for all of your college expenses, it can at least pay a part of the school bill and an opportunity in gaining a valuable experience. Generally, it only asks for about 10 to 20 hours a week of work.



Award money

Most students are being awarded somewhere between $1,500 to $1,800 a semester. Once you hit your cap, your work study program ends. You are only allowed to earn the amount that has been awarded to you.


You have another one good opportunity of being hired by your employer for an ongoing job. This means doing your job well under this program is in your best interest. The employers are flexible and will give you a schedule that could work around your class and study schedule.



How much can I earn?

You’ll earn at least the current federal minimum wage. However, you may earn more depending on the type of work you do and the skills required for the position.



Your total work-study award depends on:

  • when you apply,
  • your level of financial need, and
  • your school’s funding level.



How will I be paid?

How you’re paid depends partly on whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student.


  1. If you are an undergraduate student, you’re paid by the hour.
  2. If you are a graduate or professional student, you’re paid by the hour or by salary, depending on the work you do.
  3. Your school must pay you at least once a month.
  4. Your school must pay you directly unless you request that the school
    • send your payments directly to your bank account or
    • use the money to pay for your education-related institutional charges such as tuition, fees, and room and board.




Can I work as many hours as I want?

No. The amount you earn can’t exceed your total Federal Work-Study award. When assigning work hours, your employer or your school’s financial aid office will consider your class schedule and your academic progress.



The job

The federal government requires at least 7% of the funds that they provide to the schools to be allocated to this program. The typical on-campus jobs are usually tutoring or working in the school’s library, cafeteria, or a bookstore.


Don’t worry. The school is supposed to offer Work Study jobs that related to your course of study.


The Federal Work-Study provides full time or part time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. The program emphasizes employment in civic education and work related to your course of study.


If you work on campus, you’ll usually work for your school. If you work off campus, your employer will usually be a private nonprofit organization or a public agency, and the work performed must be in the public interest.



Are jobs on campus or off campus?

Both. If you work on campus, you’ll usually work for your school. If you work off campus, your employer will usually be a private nonprofit organization or a public agency, and the work performed must be in the public interest.


Some schools might have agreements with private for-profit employers for work-study jobs. These jobs must be relevant to your course of study (to the maximum extent possible). If you attend a proprietary school (i.e., a for-profit institution), there may be further restrictions on the types of jobs you can be assigned.



Read more here https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/work-study




Fund allocation in participating institutions

Federal Work Study funding is given to institutions to provide part-time work opportunities for students involved in certain majors. Federal funding is made to participating institutions based on requests made by the institutions.


A statutory formula is used to help institutions determine the allocations to request. Once funds are allocated to each institution it is up to that school to administer the funds.


Once all the funds for the institution have been allocated no more students can participate that year.


If you’re interested in getting a Federal Work-Study job while you’re enrolled in college or career school, make sure you apply for aid early.  Schools that participate in the Federal Work-Study Program award funds on a first come, first served basis.





Contact Information of the Federal Work-Study Aid

Federal Student Aid Information Center

Telephone: 1 800 433 3243

Telephone for the hearing impaired: 1 800 730 8913

Locations without access to 800 numbers: 319 337 5665




The Federal Student Aid provides over $150 billion in grants, work-study, and federal loans for students attending career and trade schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges or universities. Visit the Federal Student Aid Information Center website to learn about planning and paying for your post secondary education and to apply for federal student aid. Also, the website provides federal student loan information such as descriptions of repayment plans and actions to take if you are having trouble making loan payments.

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