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About Work-Study

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program is a federal need-based financial aid program developed by the U.S. Congress and administered at Northwestern University by the Work-Study Office, part of Undergraduate Financial Aid. Because of this, students cannot apply for FWS separately. Eligibility is determined annually by the student's financial aid office. Generally, students must be U.S. citizens, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled in school at least half-time. Participants must also meet federal, state, or employer-specific employment conditions before beginning work in an FWS position.

The purpose of FWS at Northwestern is to encourage part-time employment for students with financial need to meet their educational costs, gain skills and work experience related to their academic or career interests, and foster relations between and within the University and the community. Additionally, FWS students provide essential support to many Northwestern schools and campus departments, community organizations, and government agencies in Evanston. Students paid with FWS wages should never replace employees in the workplace. 

Federal Work-Study wages are not a loan and do not have to be repaid. Federal Work-Study funds are also not guaranteed. Students must work to earn the amount offered in the financial aid notice. Wages earned are intended to help students offset educational costs, generally indirect expenses such as books, transportation, or personal expenses. If students do not earn their full FWS offered, effectively nothing happens, however, in doing so some need-based aid will be forfeited and left unused.

It is the student's responsibility to browse the jobs list and find an opportunity that fits their employment interests, career goals, and academic interests. Students are not placed in jobs, nor is employment guaranteed. Employment and payroll records and processes are created and managed by Northwestern's Human Resource Office

Wages are determined by employers based on job responsibilities, necessary skills, and required experience. Students receive bi-weekly paychecks for hours worked. Federal Work-Study funds are not credited toward students' invoices.

Federal Work-Study wages are subsidized by the federal government; the employer pays 25% of each work-study employee's wage and the federal government pays 75%. The combined total of the federal share and nonfederal share of the student's wages counts toward a students overall earnings limit. Because wages are subsidized with federal funding, all participants including students and employers, must adhere to strict compliance regulations enacted by Congress and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. Participants must also follow general Labor Department employment regulations and abide by Northwestern Federal Work-Study, Financial Aid, Human Resources, and department/unit policies and procedures.

Northwestern's Work-Study Program is here to oversee program compliance and facilitate the FWS program. When necessary we will refer to appropriate offices for specialized support. Questions about employment records, payroll, and general employment conditions or requirements should be addressed to Northwestern's Human Resource Office.

To learn more, review the history of the program and student eligibility and earning guidelines. Also, see the Federal Work-Study page on the Undergraduate Financial Aid website.

You may contact us with questions.