An Employer’s Guide to Washington State’s Work-Study Program


Simply put, if your organization qualifies for Washington State Work-Study Program, and you hire a student who qualifies for the program, the state provides your organization with money to pay a portion of the student employee's wages.

Washington State offers this program to help students afford post-secondary education and give them on-the-job experience in their chosen field.

This program, funded by the Washington State Legislature, is administered on campus by Walla Walla University's (WWU's) student employment manager. The manager connects businesses that are eligible to receive Work-Study Program funding with students who meet the business’s employment qualifications and the state’s Work-Study qualifications.


In order to receive Work-Study Program funding, your organization must:

  • Have been established and operating for a minimum of six months with at least one regular employee on your payroll.
  • In cooperation with the student employment manager, enter into a contract with the Higher Education Coordinating Board. This contract confirms the organization’s eligibility to participate in the Work-Study Program and reflects the organization’s willingness to comply with all program requirements.
  • Submit a detailed job description and pay range for each position offered.
  • Not be controlled by a sectarian organization.
  • Not deny work or subject any prospective student employee to different treatment on the grounds of race, color, sex, national origin or any other form of discrimination prohibited by law.

In order for a job within your organization to qualify as a Work-Study position, the following conditions must apply.

  • Staffing the position with a student employee must not displace your organization’s regular workers, must not impair existing contracts for service and cannot violate any collective bargaining agreements. In addition, students may not fill any positions vacated by employees involved in a labor dispute.
  • A member of the student’s immediate family may neither supervise the student nor sign the student’s time sheets.
  • The job must not be sectarian related. Note: Those pursuing Theology degrees are not eligible to participate in the State Work-Study Program.
  • The job must not involve political activity, partisan or nonpartisan.


The following guidelines should help you address remuneration and reimbursement.

  • Work-Study student’s hourly pay rates should be comparable to those of non-student employees who hold entry-level positions and do similar work within the organization. Pay rates must meet or exceed minimum wage. Notify students of any pay-rate changes.
  • Pay students at least once a month. They may be paid by check or direct deposit.
  • Pay students their hourly rate for all hours worked. Employers must not accept voluntary service from State Work-Study Program participants.
  • Limit students to 19 hours per week during periods of enrollment and 40 per week during vacations.
  • Each student’s earnings are subject to federal taxes, FICA (Social Security), worker’s compensation, etc., which must be withheld from the student’s paycheck. The employer is responsible for a portion of these deductions.
  • The employer must pay in full any commission, bonus or other special compensation, including holiday or vacation pay, due an employee and must report such on the time sheet.
  • Pay the student first. Then, to claim reimbursement, submit a properly completed State Work-Study Program time sheet, in pen, not pencil, for each Work-Study employee to the student employment manager within 15 days after the end of the pay period. (The student employment manager will provide a supply of blank time sheets upon request.)
  • Completed time sheets must be mailed or hand delivered to the student employment manager and must not be delivered by a student.
  • Employers are reimbursed for a percentage of a student’s gross compensation. (Reimbursement rate varies depending on a business’s for-profit or nonprofit status. Contact WWU's student employment manager for applicable rate.)
  • Monitor each Work-Study student’s earnings to make sure he/she does not exceed the award limit shown on the student’s letter of eligibility.


In addition to the requirements outlined above, your organization is responsible for meeting the following conditions in order to begin or continue receiving Work-Study Program funding.

  • Do not allow a student to begin working until the student has presented a WWU Work-Study eligibility letter. This letter will include the student’s name, dates of work eligibility and Work-Study award limit.
  • Complete the bottom portion of the student’s eligibility letter and return it to the student employment manager before the student begins working.
  • Provide student employees with appropriate breaks for rest and meals as required by state and federal law.
  • Make payroll records of Work-Study students available for auditing.
  • Supervise, to a reasonable extent, work performed by the Work-Study student employee so that the responsibilities of the position are fulfilled and the student realizes the educational benefits of the job.
  • Ensure that students employed where they have unsupervised access to children, the elderly or other vulnerable populations comply with state regulations on background checks and fingerprinting.
  • Record the dates during which each Work-Study student is eligible to work. Terminate the students’ employment on the ending date or when the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time at Walla Walla University.