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The Federal Work-Study Program

What is Federal Work Study?

What is the benefit of hiring a Work-Study student? 

What's the benefit to the student? 

How do I request a work-study position for my department? 

Why does my department need to apply to participate in the program? 

How does it all work? 

The award seems low for my department's needs.

I want to hire a specific student but they weren't offered FWS. Can I still hire them? 

Who do I contact if I have questions? 


Federal Work-Study (FWS) is one of six major federal student financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. It is designed to provide part-time employment to students who have established financial need according to federal guidelines.  The primary goal of the Federal Work-Study Program is to provide students with the opportunity to gain work experience and offset some of their educational costs.
Students working under the FWS program have their wages subsidized by the federal government. At Cal Maritime, the federal government pays 75% of the wages and the hiring department pays the remaining 25%. In other words, if a student earned $1,500 under the FWS program, the department would pay $375 of the wages while the remaining $1,125 would be subsidized by the Department of Education.
Work-study is included as part of the financial aid award package. This allows the student to earn money as they go, instead of wrapping it all into a loan (keeping the loan debt down). Any earnings earned through the FWS program are not included as "income" when determining eligibility for financial aid for the following years.
How do I request a work-study position for my department? 
The window to apply for a FWS position for yoru department is closed.
Each year, the Department of Education gives the campus an allocation for FWS that represents the federal share of the wages. At Cal Maritime, the yearly allocation has decreased over time. Therefore, our ability to offer FWS is limited.  
The goal is to make it as transparent and easy as possible for students and departments, while making sure we are meeting all of our regulatory requirements. You will find the high-level process below:
  • Students are awarded FWS as part of their financial aid package. Not all students are eligible or qualify for FWS. The maximum award any student received as part of their aid package was $1,500.
  • Department's apply for a work-study position using the 2013-2014 Federal Work-Study Employer Application Form.
  • If approved, the department is notified and completes a Federal Work-Study On-Campus Participation Agreement.
  • Close to the beginning of the fall term, Work-study jobs will be posted on the Financial Aid Office website.
  • Students who have been awarded work-study as part of their financial aid award package can search and apply for work-study jobs.
  • Students are hired
  • Earnings are tracked by the Financial Aid Office. Departments will get notified when students are close to reaching their limit. At that time, the employer can either keep the student employed as a NON-work-study employee (paid from student assistant funds) or terminate the position.
If your department hires a FWS student and pays them $8.50/hour, that means that the student would work around 88 hours a semester or around 6 hours a week. Of course, that's assuming that the student would every single week during the semester.
If you need an employee who can work more hours, you could consider hiring a student under the FWS program, and then transition them to a standard student assistant when they reach their maximum.    
FWS is an award funded by the Department of Education. The pot of money we have to award is limited and so not all students qualify to work under the work-study program. Therefore, it may be possible that you have a student in mind, but that student didn't qualify for FWS. In that case, you can still hire the student, but pay them out of your student assistant funds (100% paid by the department) or you can hire a student who was awarded FWS.
If you have questions about the FWS program, a student's eligibility, or how it works, you contact call Nicole Hill at x1275 or at nhill@csum.edu.