Federal Work Study (FWS)


The Federal Work Study program is one of three federal campus based aid programs. For the student, it is a part time job in which the student receives a paycheck after working their hours. The funding for the position is provided by the Federal Government and not Eastern Oregon University.  Students who receive Work Study awards usually find jobs on campus; however, EOU has several off campus Work Study contracts available. We can also look into setting up a new contract if you find another position you would like to have.

With regard to working in a FWS position during a period when the student is not attending classes, e.g., the summer term or winter term, the school must apply the attributed earnings to the cost of attendance for the next period of enrollment. So, while there is no statutory limitation on the number of hours a student may work during a period of non-enrollment, those earnings may affect a student’s eligibility for FWS funds and other financial aid during the next period in which the student is enrolled.

EOU Student Employee Policy

29 Hour Rule

Eastern’s policy is that students may work no more than 29 hours a week during academic terms. Students may work over the 29-hour limitation during the summer months and breaks between terms. International students may jeopardize their Visa status by working over 20 hours per week and students with work-study may jeopardize their work-study status. For more information, please search the EOU Policy website for Student Employee Policy (2.15.05).

Learn more about starting a FWS position

411 on FWS

FAB Gab Summer 2019: Work-Study, the Forgotten Financial Aid

“In this issue, we’re taking a closer look at Federal Work-Study (FWS), a great additional resource to help pay for college. Through this program, students earn money to pay for college through part-time on-and off-campus jobs. FWS provides students an opportunity to gain work experience while pursuing their degree.”

Source: ECMC.org





Abril Hunt, AFC®
FAB Gab Contributing Editor



Welcome to the Summer edition of FAB Gab, ECMC’s quarterly financial literacy newsletter!
In this issue, we’re taking a closer look at Federal Work-Study (FWS), a great additional resource to help pay for college. Through this program, students earn money to pay for college through part-time on-and off-campus jobs. FWS provides students an opportunity to gain work experience while pursuing their degree.

Taking Advantage of Work-Study

Most colleges and universities award work-study funds on a first-come, first-served basis. This is why it is so important for students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as early as possible each year, beginning their senior year of high school. Yet one commonly overlooked aspect of FAFSA® is the option to declare interest in work-study. This can cause an otherwise eligible student to miss out on a valuable opportunity.

Image source: www.fafsa.gov


Students lose nothing by selecting “Yes” to the question “Are you interested in being considered for work-study?” If students are awarded work-study, they are then able to decide whether to participate in the program once the term begins.
The FWS program is so much more than a form of financial aid, it’s also a powerful educational, career-preparation and community service internship program. In fact, the statutory purpose of the FWS program reads:
“…to encourage students receiving Federal student financial assistance to participate in community service activities that will benefit the Nation(sic) and engender in the students a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the community.”
The combination of the rising cost of attendance and the need to gain career-relevant skills and experiences before graduation are among the reasons many students today work while in college.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics approximately 40% of full-time students and 80% of part-time college students participate in some form of paid employment. Working students represent a large portion of the student population on many college campuses.
Employment opportunities intentionally designed around learning and engagement enhance the student experience. Working alongside peers and other professionals helps build a student’s sense of identity, connection and value to the campus. This means colleges can leverage FWS as an effective way to support the following student success focus areas:

  • Academic enrichment: Learning experiences that allow students to develop intellectually, build career-readiness skills, and access adequate instructional support.
  • Social engagement: The opportunity to participate in community-building activities with peers, faculty and staff.
  • Financial capability: The ability to afford the cost of higher education. 

FWS is an effective strategy that addresses all these focus areas. A successful FWS program can support students’ financial security while improving their career-readiness and persistence.
Studies from the 
National Center for Education Statistics show that undergraduate students who work part-time in college (less than 20 hours per week) actually have higher GPAs than students who don’t work at all. Many students credit learning how to use the time they have to study more effectively; having to become more organized and learn time management skills in order to juggle going to college and having a job.
Community Service Jobs

According to Federal regulations, 7% of a college’s Federal Work-Study positions must be in service of the community. These positions can be either on or off campus. Nonprofit agencies generally qualify as community service employers. FWS positions must be in service of the community, according to Federal regulations. However, these jobs must be substantially relevant to the student’s program of study. Generally, nonprofit agencies qualify as community service employers.
Community services are defined as services that are designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs.
These services include but are not limited to:

  • Health care
  • Child care
  • Literacy training
  • Education (including tutorial services)
  • Welfare and social services
  • Transportation
  • Housing and neighborhood improvement
  • Public safety
  • Crime prevention and control
  • Emergency response and preparedness
  • Recreation
  • Community improvement

While a FWS student does not have to provide a “direct” service, the student must provide services designed to improve the quality of life for community residents or to solve particular problems related to those residents’ needs.
Community service jobs can be on or off-campus. But that doesn’t mean on-campus jobs automatically meet the community service criteria. On-campus community service jobs must provide services designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, or to solve problems related to their needs.
An often overlooked exception to off-campus employment is that colleges can contract with private for-profit companies to provide jobs for students; but these jobs must be substantially relevant to the student’s program of study. (For example, a student studying for a business administration degree could work in a bank handling customer transactions.) In these situations, private for-profit organizations do not qualify as employers for community service.

On-Campus Jobs Fit Better with Class Schedules

While on-campus jobs are more likely to accommodate students when they need time off to study for classes, there are opportunities off campus that provide great experiences not found on campus.


It’s Too Much Work 

Financial Aid offices often partner with on-campus student service coordination offices and off-campus community agencies. Additionally, FWS students themselves may be used to handling community service coordination functions.


We’re Too Far from Communities That Have a Need for Community Service

Community issues are not confined to metropolitan areas. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies in rural and suburban areas welcome energetic college students who can help with education, health care or environmental issues.


Transportation Is Too Difficult

Institution-owned vehicles can be used as community service shuttles and FWS students can serve as drivers. The time students spend in transit to community service jobs may also be included in FWS salaries. Colleges can also partner with local transportation agencies or businesses for support.


Community Service FWS Positions Are Only Through an Off-Campus Agency

Community service positions can actually be located on campus with the college as the employer. These positions could involve student volunteer coordination or other service-learning programs usually located on campus.


FWS Salaries Cannot Exceed the Federal Minimum Wage

Colleges determine how much students can earn, which positions students can apply to, how many hours they can work a week (no more than 20) and what happens when a student earns the maximum amount.


FWS Students Cannot Be Paid for Internships 

While FWS salaries can’t cover in-class time, students are allowed to participate in service-learning or other academic internship programs carrying academic credit. FWS students can also earn AmeriCorps awards for the same hours they serve as FWS participants.
Curated by Bridget Ellis, AFC®
ECMC Outreach Manager

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGIbnEGspK8&t=14s



Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6EKSepGWqY



Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kmFlWfRQZE



Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVN1IsRQ88M
By Tom Bailey, AFC®
ECMC Outreach Manager


  1. Graduate with less debt
  2. Will not affect your financial aid eligibility
  3. Keep what is earned for living expenses
  4. Work up to 20 hours per week
  5. Work on-campus or in the local community
  6. Learn time management skills
  7. Typically benefit from having better grades
  8. Develop practical skills employers seek
  9. Networking opportunities
  10. Work-study experience can be included on a resume
Curated by Brenda McCafferty, AFC®
ECMC Outreach Manager



What would you like to hear about in 2019? If you have an article, suggestion, feedback or other ideas, we want to hear from you!


Email us at financialliteracy@ecmc.org!



Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) is not Federal Work-Study and is unpaid, but if you are interested in gaining work experience and learning more about the federal government, you may still be interested in a VSFS internship.

How it works

Each year, federal employees submit project requests between May 1 and June 10. U.S. students apply to their top three VSFS projects from July 1-31 on USAJOBS.gov. VSFS supervisors review applications between August 1-31 and may contact VSFS candidates for a virtual interview. As part of the interview, candidates may be asked to show examples of their expertise and work. All candidates will hear by early September if they have been offered a position.

Selected eInterns work on their projects for ten hours a week from September through May. Some eInterns work with their academic institutions to receive course credit for their VSFS participation.

For more details, please visit the VSFS’ Linktree 🔗.

“Test drive” a career with an internship that sharpens your skills, builds your resume, and expands your professional network. 🤝 Apply to be a @VSFSatState intern by July 31st 👉 careers.state.gov.
P.S. Students can intern from wherever they are and set their work schedule!

Virtual Advisor