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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 based on students' FAFSA information and in consideration of other metrics including annual program funding levels, average hourly wages, and average hours worked by students. The university strives to ensure that as many students as possible are presented with the opportunity in their financial aid packages. 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 and offer part-time employment opportunities for students to meet their educational costs, gain relevant skills and experience to their academic or career interests, and foster relations between and within the University and the community. Likewise, FWS students provide essential support to many on-campus units and off-campus community organizations and government agencies. 

Federal Work-Study wages are not a loan and do not have to be repaid. Unlike scholarships or grants, however, students earn FWS through designated part-time jobs. If students do not earn their full FWS offered in their financial aid notice, effectively nothing happens, however, in doing so some need-based aid will be forfeited and left unused.

Students may browse the Northwestern Student Job Board to find opportunities that fit their employment interests, career goals, and academic interests. Students are not placed in jobs, nor is employment guaranteed. Employment and payroll records and processed, created, and managed by Northwestern's Human Resource Office

Wages are determined by employers based on specific 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 federal government pays 75% of the student's salary while the employer pays 25%. The combined total of the federal share and nonfederal share counts toward a student's overall FWS earnings limit.

Federal Work-Study funding is available during the fall, winter, and spring quarters. Approximately 2,500 students are eligible for the program annually. On average, students work 6-10 hours per week. Students are paid bi-weekly for their hours worked. 

All participants including students and employers, must adhere to program compliance regulations enacted by Congress and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. Northwestern's Work-Study Program is here to oversee program compliance and facilitate the FWS program. 

Participants must also follow general US Department of Labor regulations and abide by Northwestern Financial Aid, Human Resources, and department/unit policies and procedures. When necessary the Work-Study Program 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.