Federal Work Study FAQs

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program provides funds that are earned through part-time employment on and off-campus to assist students in financing the costs of post-secondary education.

What is Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a financial aid program that allows students to work on-campus or with approved community service off-campus employers to earn money to pay for college expenses. FWS is not a grant (you must work to earn it), and it is not a loan (you don't have to repay it).  Being awarded FWS with financial aid can help a student be eligible for part-time jobs, both on- and off-campus, that they may not have otherwise been eligible for. Employer’s love hiring work-study students!  The FWS program encourages employment in community service and in fields related to your major of study.

What are the benefits of Federal Work-Study?
There are many benefits to having a FWS position.  Here are just a few highlights…

  • Convenience - When working in a FWS position, typically you can schedule your work between classes and activities!
  • Mentoring - You will soon find that by working in a FWS position, you will become very connected to many faculty and staff.  Networking with these university constituents and/or off-campus employers can only benefit you.  Keep in mind that when you graduate from Bay State College and apply for your first professional job or admission into Graduate school, almost 100% of the time you will be asked to submit a reference for a faculty or staff member who can speak of your work ethic and professionalism.
  • Flexibility – We understand that as a student you are here to learn first.  Therefore, most supervisors are flexible with your work schedule, especially during difficult times like finals!
  • Variety - From health care to clerical, and from project planning to working with children, there are many different kinds of jobs available that you can apply for!
  • Experience - Working in a FWS position is a great resume builder!  If you want to make yourself more marketable after you graduate, having campus employment on your resume demonstrates responsibility and leadership!
  • Financial Assistance – You can use the money that you earn from your FWS position to help pay for extra costs that you have while attending Bay State College, such as books, transportation, food, rent, personal expenses, etc.

Am I eligible for Federal Work-Study?
Eligibility is determined based on the information that you provided on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  There are many factors that contribute to your eligibility for FWS, but the most important criteria to meet in order to even be considered are:

  • You must submit a FAFSA
  • You must request FWS on the FAFSA
  • You must be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid
  • You must have unmet financial need
  • I am not sure if I have Federal Work-Study. How do I find out?

Eligible students are awarded FWS at the time they are awarded other financial aid by Student Financial Aid.  You can log into your student account to review your financial aid award package.  FWS will be listed along with the other financial aid in your award.  If you are still unsure, feel free to reach out to your Financial Aid councilor.

I don't have Federal Work-Study; can I still get it?
Generally, we award FWS to students up front if they are eligible.  However, there are times throughout the year that some students can gain eligibility and more FWS funds become available.  If you wish to be considered for FWS, a few qualifications need to be met first:

  • You must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • You must request FWS on the FAFSA
  • You must be eligible to receive Federal Financial Aid
  • You must have unmet financial need
  • You have contacted the Student Financial Services to have your name added to a wait list
  • I have been awarded Federal Work-Study; now how do I get a job?

Students are strongly encourage to apply online for FWS positions.  Students must complete an application online in order to even be considered for a position.

Do I need to complete a student employment application online if I am returning to the same position I have worked for in the previous year?
Yes, even if you have worked in the same position in a previous year, you will need to re-apply online to officially get re-hired.   Note, this is a new process starting in the Fall 2022 for all students.  Your department supervisor will post the position online.  Students need to complete the application online before they can begin working and get paid for the hours they have worked. 

I have completed my FWS employment application online, now what?
Once you have completed your FWS job application online, you will be contacted shortly by the department representative for an interview.  If after the interview you are offered the position by the on-campus department or approved off-campus community service agency, you will need to go to TriNet employment portal to complete necessary hiring paperwork which includes:

  • I-9 - Employment Eligibility Verification form
  • W-4 Federal Tax form
  • M-4 State Tax Form
  • Direct Deposit enrollment form

Once these forms have been completed, you are officially able to start working.  Connect with your new supervisor at that point to confirm your start date and work schedule.

Can I receive my Federal Work-Study earnings in advance?
No, your FWS earnings will not be provided to you in a lump sum in advance.  Just like in any other job, you will earn your FWS funds and only be paid for the hours you have worked.

Can Bay State College apply my Federal Work-Study earnings toward any balance I have on my student account?

No, your FWS earnings will not automatically be applied towards any account balance you have with Bay State. Instead, you will receive a direct deposit for all of the hours you have worked.  After receiving your direct deposit, you can then choose to make payments on your student account if a balance has accrued.

What can I use my paycheck for?
Rather than Bay State applying your FWS earnings towards your student account, you will receive your earnings in the form of a direct deposit into your bank account bi-weekly on Thursday. You can use your paycheck earnings to pay for other educational expenses (i.e., books, transportation, food, rent, personal expenses, etc.). The payroll schedule is located in your TriNet account. 

When and how am I paid?
On-Campus FWS student workers keep track of their hours using the Tri Net payroll system.  Students must submit their hours using Tri Net daily.

What is the pay rate for Federal Work-Study positions?
Students working on-campus will earn $18.00 per hour, however, Massachusetts State Minimum Wage is $13.50 per hour.  Students working with an approved off-campus community service agency will earn $18.00 per hour.  Off-campus positions can pay more as transportation costs (fuel, auto expenses, etc.) are taken into consideration.

How many hours can I work in my Federal Work-Study position?
The amount of money that you earn cannot exceed your total FWS award.  You can calculate the number of hours a week you can work by following the instructions below:

Step 1. Determine your Pay Rate ($18.00).

Step 2. Divide your total award by (2) and you will have your award per semester. 

Step 3. Divide this figure by your hourly pay rate and you will have the number of hours per semester needed to earn your award. 

Step 4. Divide this figure by 16 (there are 16 weeks in the semester).

This will give you the number of hours per week you will need to work in order to earn your award each semester. Your award is broken into two semesters in order to help you budget your earnings.


  • Total Award $4000
  • Award for semester $2000
  • Pay Rate $18.00 per hour
  • $2000 ÷ $18.00 = 111.11 hours
  • 111.11 hours ÷ 16 weeks = approximately 6.94 hours per week a student will need to work in order to earn the full award during the academic school year.

You can use this formula anytime during the year to figure out how many hours you need to work.  This is also especially helpful if you are starting your FWS position mid-semester.

Some students choose to work more hours per week in order to receive a larger paycheck.  In this case it is important for the student to remember that he/she will be earning his/her FWS award a lot quicker and will most certainly earn their full award before the end of the academic school year.  Students are allowed to work up to but not more than 20 hours a week during the academic year.

What happens when my Federal Work-Study award is exhausted?
When you have earned your entire award your FWS position ends, and you must stop working.  Some employers opt to hire students as regular departmental student employees once their FWS award is gone. This is at the discretion of the employer.

What if I do not earn my entire Federal Work-Study award?
If you do not earn your entire fall semester award, the balance will be carried over and added to your spring semester, assuming you are enrolled and maintain eligibility.  However, any unused award at the end of spring semester will be forfeited. 

What is expected of me in my Federal Work-Study job?
FWS students are a huge asset to the college and community and provide exceptional services throughout the year.  FWS students are expected to act professionally and with integrity in their position.  Students are expected to show up on time when scheduled to work, and to perform their job duties as defined by their supervisor.  If you are ill, you are expected to call your supervisor with as much notice as possible.  Arranging for other “time off” should be requested with your supervisor with a least two weeks notice.

Can I have more than one FWS job during the academic year?
Yes, students are allowed to have up to, but not more than (2) FWS positions at one time assuming that their class schedule allows them the free time to do so.  It is important to mention that if a student has (2) FWS positions he/she will most likely be working more hours and earning their FWS award at a quicker pace.  Also keep in mind that you are only allowed to work up to 20 hours a week for all FWS positions combined.

Can I work during break periods?
Students who have not graduated and those who plan to return to school after the break period may work during those breaks (winter and spring break). Students are allowed to work 29 hrs./wk. during break periods with the approval of their supervisor, and only if the student has FWS funds remaining.

What if I cannot find a Federal Work-Study job?
FWS jobs are very plentiful and there are almost always more jobs than there are students to fill them. If you are not hired for the first FWS job don't be discouraged, try another.  There are FWS jobs that will fit almost anyone's schedule, skills, and interests.  In the rare situation that you are not hired after several attempts, feel free to contact the department supervisors directly. 

I don't have Federal Work-Study; can I still work on-campus?
Yes!  Students who are not eligible for FWS can still work on-campus in jobs that are open and available to all students, not just FWS.  These jobs are most commonly referred to as Bay State Student Employment (BSCE) positions and are funded entirely by the department/college. BSCE students can find and apply for jobs  year round.  BSCE students will also need to complete the hiring paperwork (I-9, W-4, and Direct Deposit enrollment form) in the TriNet system upon hiring.

Are Federal Work-Study earnings considered taxable income?
Yes, FWS earnings are considered taxable income.  However, you are FICA tax exempt. The Payroll Department will send each student a W-2 by January 31st each year highlighting their earned income and taxes paid. Unlike the money you earn from non-FWS employment positions, your earnings will not be used to determine your financial need when filing the FAFSA the following year.

How do I report my Federal Work-Study earnings on my FAFSA? 
When completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the next academic school year, you will be asked to report FWS earnings.  The U.S. Department of Education excludes these earnings from your total earned income when determining your financial need. This is a major benefit of having and using your FWS award.

Who can I contact if I have Federal Work-Study questions?
Please contact Student Financial Aid at financialaid@baystate.edu