Federal Work-Study

Federal Work Study funding provides a means for college students to pay for expenses related to their education. Students earn FAFSA work study funds through part-time employment in jobs approved for the program.

They may use the money they make to supplement their income to cover their daily living expenses. Students may find work in a variety of settings both on campus and off campus.

Applicants must qualify for the program to receive funding. They must apply using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form collects information that helps schools determine the amount of financial aid for which the student qualifies. The following information provides full details on how to apply for a federal work-study grant to help with your college expenses.

What is Federal Work Study (FWS)?

The Federal Work Study (FWS) program helps students earn money to cover certain education expenses. The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time employment to students working in an accredited postsecondary program of study. Funds are disbursed directly to the student in the form of wages. Federal college work-study wages are not applied to the student’s tuition. It is only meant to help the student pay for day-to-day expenses while they pursue their education. Students may find jobs both on campus and off campus.

Related Article: Federal Student Grants

The financial aid office at the student’s school administers the work-study program. The office helps determine a student’s needs and recommends them to places where they may obtain employment. The money for the federal works study program does not come directly from the school. The money is paid by each employer rather than the school or the government. The employer determines the amount of wages to award a student based on the type of job and skill level required for the position. Students may only work part-time in a work-study job and may only collect wages for actual hours worked.

Where would I work and how much can I earn with financial aid work study?

The Financial aid work-study program requires students to pursue employment in community service work or work that helps them advance in their field of study. Students may work in a variety of settings for their work-study grant such as:

  • Schools.
  • Federal, state or local agencies.
  • Private not-for-profit organizations.
  • Private for-profit organizations.

The program does not help applicants find a job. They may refer students to suitable employers. However, it is up to each student to apply for and secure a position before the school disburses funds. Award recipients may only work part-time hours to receive funding. The number of hours worked varies between 10 and 20 hours and is based on the employer’s needs. Types of jobs a student may find include the following:

  • Tutoring – Students may find work on campus tutoring their peers. Some may find off-campus employment at a local school to work one-on-one with students in need of help.
  • Clerical/Data Entry – Clerical/data entry work is usually performed in an office setting. The job often requires the use of a computer and requires proficient typing skills.
  • Community Service – Nonprofit organizations frequently hire students to help with a variety of tasks including fundraising, event planning, calling sponsors and other administrative duties as required.
  • Specialty Fields – Those students in a specialty field such as health sciences or engineering may find employment in jobs related to their field. Students majoring in nursing, for example, may find work in a hospital or doctors office setting as a medical assistant. Engineering students may find work at a local engineering firm assisting more experienced engineers while learning on the job.

In general, the federal work-study award amount is at least minimum wage for the state the student works. Undergraduate students earn hourly wages. Graduate students, however, may receive their work-study grant funds as salary or wages depending on the employer. Income earned through work-study does not count against the student for the FAFSA income calculation.

What are the Federal Work Study eligibility requirements?

Funding for the Federal Work Study grant is based on the information provided in the student’s FAFSA. To qualify for federal college work-study, students must first meet general federal aid eligibility criteria. Students must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Possess a valid Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Be current on all federal student loans.
  • Demonstrate financial soundness to repay federal loans as necessary.
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in an approved program of study.

Lastly, students must demonstrate they are making enough academic progress towards their degree or certificate. The requirement varies per school. At some institutions, students must maintain a specific GPA to remain eligible for the Federal Work Study grant. While at other schools, the student must take a specific number of courses during the year.

How to Get Work Study Funding

Completing a FAFSA application is the first step towards getting a financial aid work-study grant. The application collects information from the student to determine their eligibility for all federal aid programs including the work-study award. Applicants must complete all information accurately to ensure they qualify for programs that may be of benefit to them. When completing the FAFSA, students will be asked to provide financial information for themselves and their parents. As such, applicants should gather key documents before starting the application. Having the information on hand can make things easy to reference when filling out the form.

Documents applicants should gather before beginning their Federal Work Study application are as follows:

  • Social Security card
  • Citizenship documents
  • Birth Certificate
  • Tax forms
  • Bank statements

When filling out the form, the student will need to provide their social security number, full name, address and income. They will also need to have their parents complete their portion of the application which requests similar information. The student also is required to provide a list of schools they would like to receive their FAFSA. If applying for loans, the student must consent to a credit check as a part of the application process.

Each school administers FAFSA work-study grants. Once the school receives a copy of the student’s FAFSA, the school determines the applicant’s eligibility for the Federal Work Study award.

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