Explanation of Federal Work Study for Students

Federal Work Study (FWS) hours and financial aid are offered to a college student based on his or her family’s income. This aid is offered, but not always guaranteed.

When a student receives his or her financial aid package for college, there are several types of aid that he or she may be awarded: scholarships, grants, federal loans, or federal work study hours.

Federal Work Study (FWS,) formerly known as the College Work-Study Program, is a federally funded form of financial aid available to students who qualify based on the income levels of the student, and the student’s parents if the student is considered a dependent.

How Does the Federal Work Study Program Work?

According to the United States Department of Education, over 3,400 postsecondary institutions offer Federal Work Study employment as a financial aid option to qualifying students.

Based on information provided on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA,) the institution offers the student a specific number of work hours per week to be distributed among qualifying on campus jobs. The financial aid award for the FWS program is calculated by taking the maximum number of hours a week a student is eligible to receive multiplied by the hourly pay, which is usually minimum wage. That figure is then multiplied by the number of weeks in an academic term to calculate a final award per term.

However, FWS is not a guaranteed financial aid award. The institution is not responsible for finding or maintaining a job for the student or making sure that the money is used strictly to cover the cost of attendance. If a student cannot find a job or spends wages elsewhere, then the difference is not made up by the school.

How to Apply for Federal Work Study Awards

Students who are interested in receiving FWS awards must file the FAFSA. This is the form used by most colleges, universities, and vocational schools to determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid. From there, the institution will determine, based on a number of economic factors, whether or not the student is able to receive FWS.

Next, the student must find an eligible on campus job. Most campus jobs are FWS, but a student should look at job descriptions carefully to make sure that they have enough weekly work study hours for the position. Sometimes, supervisors are not able to hire students with a low number of hours simply because of the nature of the position.

If a student has specific questions about a school’s FWS program, he or she should talk to a financial aid counselor for more information, Counselors can answer questions such as where to look for campus jobs or what to do if a student’s financial situation changes.

Federal Work Study (FWS) provides students who qualify an opportunity to earn money by working on campus in order to pay for the cost of attendance and any cost of living expenses. Students who wish to be considered for FWS should file the FAFSA form with the Department of Education before the school’s priority filing deadline and talk to a financial aid counselor for more school-specific information.

Editorial Staff

Noah is a PhD student in modern European history who loves to find time for travel, learning new languages, and exploring the food in her New York City neighborhood.

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