Federal Work-Study

The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) was designed to facilitate access to the on- and off-campus job market for students with a financial need. This program is backed by the federal government through the Department of Education. FWS allows qualifying community service and non-profit organizations to hire students and receive reimbursement for a significant portion of the payroll cost for these employees.

A student must apply for financial aid each year and meet federal eligibility requirements. If a student receives a FWS award, the amount of the award is not credited directly to the student’s account at the Bursar. Instead, the student works and receives a weekly paycheck for services rendered. No contract services are permitted.

Both on- and off-campus FWS employers must adhere to established procedures so that funding and their eligibility to hire FWS students is not jeopardized.

Eight Things You Should Know about Federal Work Study

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Allocation
Students can calculate how far their FWS award will go by dividing the total award amount by the number of work weeks anticipated and dividing that result by the hourly rate.

Example: if you have a $3,200 FWS award, and you work 30 weeks at $12 per hour, then you can work up to 9 hours per week. Your gross earnings (before taxes) will be approximately $108 per week.

Or, consult the FWS Award Chart for some common award amounts and calculations for 32 weeks of work at several levels of pay.

Reaching the FWS Allocation
Pending further arrangements, FWS students who reach their maximum award limit must stop working immediately. However, if the employer wishes to continue employing the student, they may do so, but will assume 100% of the payroll expense.

FWS Award Increases
Adjustments to FWS allocations may be made if an applicant’s financial need allows for an increase and funds are available to finance the increase. The employer and employee should consider the time requirement of the student’s FWS job in relation to pay rate and FWS allocation for the entire academic year. If it appears that the allocation will be exhausted before the job ends, then a request may be made for an increase through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs when the award is nearly depleted.

FWS Award Reductions
Occasionally it is necessary for the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs to reduce a student’s FWS award. This may occur when a student receives assistance not originally included in their initial financial aid package, or when other student earnings or resources are brought to the attention of the financial aid counselor. Should this occur, the student should discuss with their employer the impact to the work schedule in terms of exhausting the FWS award.

In addition to financial need, a student must:

  • be a U.S. citizen, a national, permanent resident of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands or Northern Mariana Islands; or living in the U.S. with the intention of becoming a citizen or permanent resident;
  • be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment at Syracuse University, and be in regular attendance in either an undergraduate or advanced degree program;
  • maintain satisfactory progress in coursework while under the program;
  • not owe a refund on a federal or state educational grant;
  • not be in default on a state or federal educational loan; and
  • comply with selective service registration requirements.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be submitted annually to be considered for Federal Work-Study and all other types of federal financial aid. File the FAFSA before the Financial Aid Office’s posted deadline to apply. Since Federal Work-Study funds are limited, it is important to file the FAFSA before the deadline. Undergraduate students who want to also apply for a Syracuse University Grant, will need to file the College Board’s PROFILE application. Learn more about How to Apply for FWS Funds.

Students who are offered Federal Work-Study as part of their financial aid package will be able to view their financial aid award letter on MySlice. You’ll receive an email when your award letter is ready for viewing. The award notification schedule is available on Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs.

Assistance in securing a job is available for those who require it. Unlike other forms of aid, Federal Work-Study is paid directly to students on an hourly basis in the form of a weekly paycheck for their services. Students may earn up to the amount of their approved FWS award, but must discontinue working in a FWS-funded job once the maximum allotment is reached unless their employer /department allows them to stay employed without having any further Federal Work-Study funds.

The community service component of the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program encourages students receiving program assistance to participate in community service activities off-campus. A number of community service agencies hire FWS students.

FWS community service includes work in:

  • health care, child care, literacy training, education, mentoring, welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, recreation, community improvement;
  • service opportunities or youth corps as defined in Section 101 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990, and service in the agencies, institutions and activities designated in Section 124(a) of the National and Community Service Act of 1990;
  • support services for students with disabilities.

The Student Employment Office offers a wide variety of community service positions on- and off-campus through ’Cuse Works. Information about these positions is available on Handshake, or contact the office at 315.443.2268, 210 Steele Hall.

Jobs are available in a variety of units and locations throughout campus. You can begin applying for positions at any time, and you may even be hired prior to arriving on campus.  Review open jobs on Handshake.

  • The student should notify the primary employer and/or department of any additional jobs they hold so that the FWS funds can be closely monitored.
  • If employed using a Federal Work-Study award, once the balance is exhausted, the employers reserve the right to end your employment

Once a student accepts a FWS job offer, it is expected that they will assume the responsibilities attached to that position for the entire FWS award period or until the allocation is exhausted. Therefore, before making a commitment to an employer, the student is advised to ask pertinent questions during the job interview to ensure the position is satisfactory. In some cases, however, a student may find it necessary to change FWS jobs. Although there are no limits to the number of on-campus job changes that a student may make, there are change restrictions for off-campus FWS jobs. Contact the Student Employment Office for assistance. The student employee should give the employer at least a two-week notice or work at least the last four scheduled shifts to allow time for finding a suitable replacement.

The Student Employment Office can often help students who need summer employment, and full and part-time summer work opportunities are available on campus and in the Syracuse community and posted on Handshake. The student’s availability will need to be flexible in order to pursue these employment opportunities.

  • This chart provides you with an approximate number of hours you may work based on a 30-week academic year and your FWS award amount.
  • Note that these are approximations, and you may work more or less hours based on your schedule of availability and your department’s operational needs. Please consult with your supervisor for specific work requirements.
  • If employed using a Federal Work-Study award, once the balance is exhausted, the employer reserves the right to end your employment.

Hourly Pay Rate  Federal Work-Study Award Amounts
$1,000$1,500$1,800$2,000$2,500$3,200
$12.502.6 hours per week4.0 hours per week4.8 hours per week5.3 hours per week6.5 hours per week8.5 hours per week
$14.502.2 hours per week3.4 hours per week4.0 hours per week4.6 hours per week5.7 hours per week7.3 hours per week

Any student seeking off-campus FWS positions, whether new or returning to agencies that previously employed them, must pick up a FWS Referral Form from Student Employment in 210 Steele Hall to present to the off-campus employer.

A prospective student employee should bring the FWS referral form to the job interview. Once the student is hired, the employer completes the FWS referral form and faxes it to Student Employment at 315.443.4949.

The FWS referral form must be completed and on file at Student Employment prior to a student employee starting work. Hours worked prior to receipt of the FWS referral form are not covered under the FWS program and are paid for by the off-campus employer.

Interested in using your FWS over the summer or during school breaks? If you plan on working at a non-profit agency, you may be eligible to use your Federal Work-Study award. Please contact Student Employment at 315.443.2268 or cuseworks@syr.edu to inquire.