The Federal Work-Study Program

What is Federal Work-Study?

What is the benefit of hiring a Federal Work-Study student? 

What's the benefit to the student? 

How do I request a Federal Work-Study position for my department?

Why does my department need to apply to participate in the program? 

How does it all work? 

The award seems low for my department's needs.

I want to hire a specific student but they weren't offered FWS. Can I still hire them? 

Who do I contact if I have questions? 


What is Federal Work Study?
Federal Work-Study (FWS) is one of six major federal student financial aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. It is designed to provide part-time employment to students who have established financial need according to federal guidelines.  The primary goal of the Federal Work-Study Program is to provide students with the opportunity to gain work experience and offset some of their educational costs.
What is the benefit of hiring a Federal Work-Study student?
Students working under the FWS program have their wages subsidized by the federal government. At Cal Maritime, the federal government pays 50% of the wages and the hiring department pays the remaining 50%. In other words, if a student earned $2,000 under the FWS program, the department would pay $1,000 of the wages while the remaining $1,000 would be subsidized by the U.S. Department of Education. An exemption is made to students employed as reading or math tutors for children or in family literacy activities where the federal share may be up to 100%.
What's the benefit to the student?
Federal Work-Study is included as part of the financial aid award package. This allows the student to reduce loan debt and obtain important job skills and experience. Any earnings earned through the FWS program are not included as countable income when determining eligibility for financial aid for future years.
How do I request a Federal Work-Study position for my department? 
Please visit the Human Resources website for help.
Why does my department need to apply to participate in the program?
Each year, the U.S. Department of Education gives the campus an allocation for FWS that represents the federal share of the wages. At Cal Maritime, the yearly allocation has decreased over time. Therefore, our ability to offer FWS is very limited.  
How does it all work?
The goal is to make it as transparent and easy as possible for students and departments, while making sure we are meeting all of our regulatory requirements. You will find the high-level process below:
  • Students are awarded a maximum Federal Work-Study award of $2000 as part of their financial aid award package, and not all students are eligible for FWS.
  • A FWS award does not guarantee a FWS job.  More students are awarded FWS than there are available jobs because not all students will have the skills and abilities or work schedules that the employers need. 
  • Departments apply for a FWS position using the 2016-2017 Federal Work-Study Employer Application Form.
  • If approved, the department is notified and completes a Federal Work-Study On-Campus Participation Agreement.
  • Close to the beginning of the fall term, Federal Work-Study jobs will be posted on the Financial Aid Office website.
  • At least 7% of the FWS federal allocation must be used to pay students employed in community service jobs, and at least one FWS student must be employed as a reading tutor or performaing family literacy activities.
  • Students who have been awarded FWS as part of their financial aid award package can search and apply for FWS jobs.
  • Students make arrangments for a hiring interview with the supervisor, and students that are hired complete the FWS employment paperwork.
  • NEW: The supervisor will make a PDF copy of the FWS Timesheet and email to the Financial Aid Office at
  • The student will submit the FWS Timesheet to Payroll.
  • Tracking FWS work hours and earnings are the reposibility of the student and the supervisor, and must ensure that the student does not earn more than their FWS award.
  • The Financial Aid Office will notify supervisors when students are close to reaching their limit. At that time, the employer can either keep the student employed as a NON-Federal Work-Study employee (paid from student assistant funds) or terminate the position.
  • Supervisors must notify the Financial Aid Office when a student terminates or will not use their full FWS allocation/award.
The maximum award is $2,000? That seems low for the needs of my department.
If your department hires a FWS student and pays them $10.00 per hour, that means that the student would work around 200 hours a semester or around 12 hours a week, asumming that the student would every single week during the semester.
If you need an employee who can work more hours, you could consider hiring a student under the FWS program, and then transition them to a standard student assistant when they reach their maximum.    
I want to hire a specific student, but he/she was not awarded work-study. Can I still hire them under the work-study program?
FWS is an award funded in large part by the U.S. Department of Education. The pool of FWS funds is limited and therefore not all students qualify to work under the FWS program. It may be possible that you have a student in mind, but that student didn't qualify for FWS. In that case, you can still hire the student, but pay them out of your student assistant funds (100% paid by the department).
Who do I contact if I have questions?
If you have questions about the FWS program, a student's eligibility, or how it works, contact the Financial Aid Office at x1287.