Introduction to Federal Work Study (FWS)

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 he/she 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

Community Service

The community service component of the 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.

Human Resources Student Employment Services (HRSES) offers a wide variety of community service positions on- and off-campus. Information about these positions is available on, or contact the office at 315-443-2268, 210 Steele Hall.

Students Applying For FWS Funds

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.


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 SU, 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.

Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9)

All first-time employees must complete the I-9 form to verify identity and work eligibility before being allowed to work. There are no exceptions. The form must be completed in person at the HRSES office, 210 Steele Hall, and acceptable original documentation must be presented.

Eligible Off-Campus Employers

  • Non-profit agencies and organizations as defined by state or federal law
  • Public agencies, including municipal agencies or county offices, state government agencies and federal departments (other than U.S. Department of Education).

Employer Qualifications

  • Agencies must provide a federal ID number proving non-profit status
  • Agencies must be accessible to the entire community
  • Agencies must be the paymaster
  • Student wages must be paid from sources other than federal monies

Non-Qualifying Positions

  • Positions in non- or not-for-profit organizations that have limits or restrictions (religious or otherwise)
  • Political aide positions
  • Federal, state, or local lobbying positions

Posting a job

HRSES posts both Federal Work-Study and non-Federal Work-Study jobs online on Handshake. On-campus and off-campus employers can provide their job posting information to HRSES directly at x2268, or, and their jobs will be posted online within 24 hours. Departments that prefer to post their positions directly to the site should contact HRSES for assistance.

Questions? Contact HRSES at 315.443.2268.