Federal Work Study

Program Overview

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a federally funded, need-based financial aid program that allows students with financial need to earn FWS funds through employment with authorized FWS employers. Federal work-study is considered employment and the income earned is taxable.

To be considered for FWS, undergraduate and graduate students must be matriculated in a degree-granting program, enrolled at least half time (minimum of 6 credits for undergraduate students; 5 credits for graduate students) and maintain satisfactory academic progress as outlined for financial aid.

Students should first check with the federal work-study coordinator in the financial aid office to determine eligibility to participate in the program. Once eligibility has been determined, students can pursue either on-campus or off-campus employment.  Once all completed paperwork has been submitted to the federal work-study coordinator, students will receive a confirmation email with a copy of the work-study time sheet and payroll schedule attached.  Students should not begin working until this confirmation is received.

For a complete overview of the program, please view FWS Student Handbook (PDF 177kB).

Start and End Dates

FWS runs from July 1-June 30. Work for a given Empire State College academic year cannot begin before July and no payment can be made for work done after the following June 30.

On-Campus Employment

Students interested in working on campus should contact their local Empire State College center to find out if any positions are available. FWS students can be employed by any center or unit of Empire State College and may assist an individual mentor or administrator in work normally paid for by the institution, but not in profit-making enterprises in which the institution may be engaged. FWS students also may be employed as clerical help at centers and units.

Click for current on-campus openings.

Off-Campus Employment

Students interested in working off campus may contact any nonprofit agencies in their area. If you are not sure what agencies are in your area, you may search under nonprofit agencies or community services agencies at www.yellowpages.com.

An eligible non-college employer must meet the following criteria:

  • the employment must meet the conditions outlined in section H.2
  • the employer should be a federal, state or local public agency, or a private nonprofit organization functioning in the public interest and having professional staff to supervise the work performed by students
  • a formal agreement must be concluded with each off-campus agency accepting a FWS as an employee. Agreement forms and instructions are provided by the Empire State College financial aid office. Copies of each signed agreement must be on file with the employer, the Empire State College financial aid and student accounts offices.

Click for current off-campus openings.

Study abroad students and students outside of NYS are not eligible for off-campus employment.

Community Service Jobs

Community services are defined as services that are identified by an institution of higher education through formal or informal consultation with local nonprofit, government and community-based organizations as 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:

  • help in areas such as health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial services), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development and community improvement
  • work in 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 that act
  • support for students (other than for an institution's own students) with disabilities
  • activities in which an FWS student serves as a mentor for such purposes as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities and counseling, including career counseling.

America Reads Challenge

If you are a student interested in this option, we recommend you contact local schools, public libraries, before- and after-school programs (such as Head Start), or Literacy Volunteers of America. Federal regulations allow for the waiver of the FWS institutional-share requirement for students who are employed as reading and/or math tutors for children in preschool and elementary school, or in a family-literacy project that provides services to families for preschool-age children or elementary-school children. The programs that provide the reading and/or math tutors for children may take place during the children's school hours, after school, on weekends, or in the summer, in order to extend the learning time. Colleges may develop their own reading-tutor program or become involved with existing community programs. For example, an FWS student's employer may be the college, a federal, state or local public agency or a private nonprofit organization. If a student is employed under the America Reads program, the employer’s obligation to pay 25 percent of the overall pay rate is waived. Students or location personnel interested in the America Reads Challenge should contact the financial aid office to verify that the placement they are interested in meets these requirements.

Conditions Of Employment

  • Employer obligations:
    1. The work done by FWS students must not displace regular workers or violate existing employment contracts.
    2. The employer must be willing to pay a minimum of 25 percent of the wages earned by the FWS student.
    3. The student's earnings must not exceed the amount of his or her FWS award.
    4. The student must be paid for all hours worked. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits any employer from accepting voluntary services from any paid employee.
    5. The work must not involve the construction, operation, maintenance of facilities or programs of sectarian religious instruction or worship, or of partisan political activity.
    6. Payment of dues, fees, gratuities or gifts must not be a condition of the student's employment.
    7. The student must not be paid for receiving instruction for college credit in a classroom, laboratory or other academic setting.
  • Student obligations:
    1. Once a student has agreed upon a position and pay rate with the potential employer, he or she must contact the financial aid office to receive the necessary paperwork, which must be completed before the student may begin working.
    2. The student may not work past the published end date of the term unless he or she has registered for the next term, or has requested and been approved to work while not enrolled.

Wage Rate

FWS students who work at an Empire State College location will be paid based upon New York State agency regulations. The rate of pay may be increased at the discretion of the supervisor. Skilled work for which the student is qualified is paid according to an appropriate rate for the type of work being done. Students working under the America Reads program will be paid $18 per hour. Students working at an off-campus agency (non-America Reads) must negotiate the rate of pay with the agency. Federal Work Study students must be paid at least the federal minimum wage and cannot exceed $19.90 per hour.

Once a student is approved for Federal Work Study and all the necessary paperwork is completed, the student will be forwarded timesheets and a payroll schedule. Students should expect to receive their first paycheck up to five weeks after beginning work. If bi-weekly time sheets are submitted promptly, paychecks will be issued every two weeks.

Hours Of Employment

Federal Work Study is a part-time work program. Students generally average 10 to 20 hours per week. The maximum amount of hours allowed to be worked within one week is 25. Any excess over 25 hours per week requires specific permission from the financial aid office. Under no circumstances can students be paid for more than 40 hours per week. Students cannot work for more than six hours without taking at least a half-hour break. Students cannot work more than eight hours per day unless granted permission from the financial aid office.