Federal Work-Study Program

This guide is for students. Employers interested in learning more should refer to the Federal Work-Study Employers Guide.

Simply put, if you qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program and get a job at a business that qualifies for the program, the federal government provides the business with money to pay a portion of your wages.

The government offers this program for three basic reasons:

  • To help students afford post-secondary education.
  • To encourage businesses to hire students.
  • To encourage students to work with community service organizations.

This government program is administered on campus by the student employment manager who helps eligible businesses find student employees who meet the business's employment qualifications and the government's Work-Study Program qualifications.

Your Qualifications for the Federal Work-Study Program

In order to be considered for the Federal Work-Study Program, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (sometimes called the FAFSA) and a WWU Financial Aid Application. You may complete these forms online or request them by calling the Financial Aid Office.

If you are a single, undergraduate student and you apply for financial aid, your eligibility for Work-Study will automatically be considered. If you qualify for the program, your award letter from Student Financial Services will tell you how much Work-Study money you are eligible to earn.

If you are a married student and/or a graduate student, contact the student employment manager to find out whether you are eligible for Work-Study.

After you have been notified of your eligibility for Work-Study, begin looking for a job with a qualified business.  Job Scene -- the Student Employment Office's listing of available jobs -- can help you get started. Students enrolled less than half time are not eligible for this program.

Job Specifications

The federal government requires that a position funded by Work-Study money:

  • Complement your academic or career goals.
  • Not involve constructing, operating, or maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or sectarian instruction. Nor may it involve preparing or grading papers used for sectarian instruction.
  • Not involve partisan or nonpartisan political activity.
  • Serve the public interest rather than the interests of a particular group.

Getting A Work-Study Position

  • Contact the Student Employment manager to find out whether a Work-Study position that suits your interests and abilities is available.
  • Obtain a letter of eligibility from the Work-Study manager to take to a prospective employer. (Only one letter of eligibility will be given at a time)
  • Submit your letter of eligibility and go through the business's hiring process.
  • When you get a job, have your employer complete the bottom portion of your letter of eligibility and return in to the Work-Study manager. This must be done before you may begin working.
  • Also upon being hired, fill out I-9 and W-4 forms with your employer's Human Resources department.
  • For auditing purposes, your employment records of the period during which you received funding from the Federal Work-Study Program should be retained for seven years.

Work-Study Program Pay

Students participating in the Work-Study Program are paid by the business that employs them. The amount of pay, the method of payment, and the timing of pay periods is determined by the business and not by WWU.

Keeping A Work-Study Position

In order to maintain your eligibility for the Work-Study Program, you must:

  • Be enrolled at least halftime as an undergraduate or graduate student. (Under certain circumstances, students may participate in the Work-Study Program during summer vacation even though they are not attending classes. In such cases, students must use their net summer earnings -- gross earnings minus taxes and job-related expenses -- to pay their tuition and other expenses fall quarter.)
  • Steadily move toward the completion of a degree. (See the WWU Student Finance Bulletin for the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.)
  • Meet all scheduled work appointments and perform your assigned duties satisfactorily.
  • Accurately complete our Federal Work-Study Program time sheets and submit them promptly according to scheduled pay periods.
  • Sign your time sheets before leaving for vacation breaks or for the end of the school year.
  • Make sure your gross earnings do not exceed the limit specified in your letter of eligibility. If you are close to reaching your award limit, see the student employment manager.

You are responsible for reporting any changes in your Work-study eligibility, enrollment, or financial situation to the student employment manager, the Financial Aid Office, and your employer.