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Federal Work Study

The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is a part-time employment program designed to help you meet your educational expenses.  To apply, submit your resume and accept the funds you have been offered within 10 days.  

What is Work Study?

How do I receive my Federal Work Student award?

Why choose Work Study?

How is FWS awarded?

Can FWS be deducted from the tuition bill?

How does a student get a job assignment?

What if a student earns all his/her FWS award before the award year is over? Can it be increased?

Is FWS taxable income?

Do students have to report FWS earnings on the FAFSA?

Do FWS earnings count against the student to get aid for next year?

How can I get a Federal Work-Study Grant?

How do I know whether I have been awarded a Federal Work-Study Grant?

Is there a Federal Work-Study job for every eligible student?

How many hours can I work each week?

Do I have to work?

Must I accept the job offered to me?

Am I paid to study?

If I don't use all the award money this year, can I use the Federal Work-Study funds I got this year to work next year? If I have FWS this year, will I have it next year?

Can I return to the same FWS job each year?


What is Work Study?

It is the part of your financial aid award that provides an opportunity to earn money with a part–time job on campus to help pay for your living costs at college.

How do I receive my Federal Work Student award?

Federal Work Study is not a lump sum grant. You are eligible to earn up to the dollar amount listed on your financial aid award letter over the course of the term-time. You are not guaranteed this money, nor are you required to earn it all. If you would like to earn the dollar amount listed on your financial aid award letter, you need to find a job and work the appropriate amount of hours. You will receive the money in monthly paychecks based on your hourly wage and hours worked. The paychecks are issue on the 15th of every month.

In order to activate your Federal Work Study you should review the jobs posted at the Career Center.

Why choose Work Study?

There are many benefits but here’s a few to think about:

  • Income: Pocket money for things you want and need.
  • Opportunity: Although you are not guaranteed a job if you are awarded Work Study, you are much more likely to be hired if you have Work Study eligibility.
  • Student Friendly Schedule: Your employer knows your first priority is as a college student. Employers try to be as flexible as possible in scheduling work hours around your class schedule.
  • Future Financial Aid Eligibility: As a financial aid need-based program, Work Study income (although taxable) does not affect your future financial aid eligibility in the next tax year.
  • Work Experience: Students who have job experience and who have worked while attending school are more attractive to future employers. Your supervisor may become an excellent reference.
  • Academic Success: Campus research has shown that Work Study students connect with the campus community, learn about resources available to students, and establish stronger relationships with faculty and staff. This correlates with the fact that students with Work Study jobs are more likely to stay in school, perform better academically, and graduate!

How is FWS awarded?

FWS is based on the FAFSA. It will appear with your award package if you are eligible.

Can FWS be deducted from the tuition bill?

FWS is earned as you work. It is paid to you in the form of a paycheck, not deducted from your bill.

How does a student get a job assignment?

FWS job openings are posted under "Current Jobs" on the Office of Student Employment webpage

What if a student earns all his/her FWS award before the award year is over? Can it be increased?

It may be possible to increase the FWS allotment if funds are available and if the student still has remaining eligibility. Contact your Student Financial Services Counselor to find out if your award can be increased.

Is FWS taxable income?

If a student earns enough income to file a tax return, it must be included as taxable income for federal and state purposes.

Do students have to report FWS earnings on the FAFSA?

Students must report FWS earnings on the FAFSA.

Do FWS earnings count against the student to get aid for next year?

FWS earnings do not count against the student for the following year's federal financial aid. Even though students report FWS as part of their total income on the FAFSA, there is another place on the FAFSA where FWS earnings are reported separately and the FAFSA formula does not count that against the student.

How can I get a Federal Work-Study Grant?

The first step in getting a Federal Work-Study Grant is to apply for financial aid. Filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will establish eligibility for Federal Work-Study as well as other types of Federal financial aid. Be sure to indicate interest in Work-Study where the question is asked. Once the form is processed, you must return required supporting documents to the Office of Financial Aid. When everything is received, a Financial Aid counselor will review your file to determine your eligibility. This determination is then forwarded to the Office of Student Employment. Federal Work-Study is awarded to students with the highest need first. Because this the fund is small the amount of students we can offer this award to is limited. Please feel free to contact us if you have specific questions about your eligibility.

How do I know whether I have been awarded a Federal Work-Study Grant?

New students:

You will receive an Award Letter indicating the financial aid you have been awarded. If you are eligible for Federal Work-Study, it will be listed with a dollar amount on the award letter. The dollar amount is the maximum a student may earn for the academic year on the Federal Work-Study Program.

Continuing students:

You will receive an email when your financial aid package is posted online. Access your financial aid award through MyCSUSM to view your awards. If you are eligible for Federal Work-Study, it will be listed with a dollar amount. The dollar amount is the maximum a student may earn for the academic year on the Federal Work-Study Program.

Is there a Federal Work-Study job for every eligible student?

Unfortunately, no. Students are placed in jobs on a first-come, first-served basis once eligibility has been determined. Federal Work-Study funds are awarded to each school by the government, not directly to each student. Once the funds granted to the school for this purpose are earned by students, the government does not award additional funds until the following year. When awards are distributed, the school does not know how many students will actually choose to work or how many hours they will work, so more students receive awards than can work, to ensure that the funds are used. However, it has been our experience that most students who are interested in working as Federal Work-Study students are placed in jobs within the first two months of the academic year.

How many hours can I work each week?

We recommend that you not exceed 20 hours a week.

Do I have to work?

You do not have to work, but working is the only way you have access to the FWS money.

Must I accept the job offered to me?

You will have an opportunity to consider the jobs available at the time you want to start working. After interviewing with a department supervisor, you decide whether or not to accept the job. If you decide not to accept a job, you may consider other jobs which are available, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Am I paid to study?

Federal Work-Study jobs are real jobs with real responsibilities. You are paid to work.

If I don't use all the award money this year, can I use the Federal Work-Study funds I got this year to work next year? If I have FWS this year, will I have it next year?

Federal Work-Study is a form of financial aid and, like other forms of financial aid, may be used only in the year for which it was awarded. You must reapply for this, as well as all other types of aid, each year by filing the FAFSA by March 2nd at www.FAFSA.gov. There is no guarantee that you will receive FWS each year, as it is part of your total financial aid package and will be influenced by other types of aid you receive (including loans), family income and your non-Federal Work-Study income during the previous year. All of these items are variable and can impact your eligibility.

Can I return to the same FWS job each year?

If you are eligible for Federal Work-Study and want to return to the same department, you may return, assuming that the department wants you back. You must apply for financial aid each year and you must get the appropriate paperwork from the Office of Student Employment at the beginning of each year. You do not need new paperwork if you are continuing a job from fall to spring semester.