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Student Frequently Asked Questions

I'm not eligible for work-study. Now what?

Only students who have Federal Work-Study (FWS) in their financial aid may apply to FWS jobs and earn FWS wages. 

There are still plenty of job opportunities available on the Student Job Board that do not require FWS, however! Click on the column titled Federal Work Study and it should sort jobs in which “all students can apply” versus those that require FWS.  

Additionally, you can find part-time, non-work study job opportunities throughout Evanston and surrounding communities or on

Am I required to get a job that pays FWS wages if FWS is part of my financial aid?

No. You are not required or obligated to get a work-study job and can always choose to cover your personal expenses in some other way.

If you do not wish to find a job, you may be eligible to borrow a Subsidized Direct Loan instead.

Am I guaranteed a job if FWS is part of my financial aid?

No. At Northwestern, work-study is not a job placement program. The amount listed in CAESAR is not a guarantee of employment or earnings but rather an earnings limit should you chose to work. 

Why isn't FWS listed on my tuition invoice in CAESAR?

Federal Work-Study funds are not credited toward students' invoices. Students earn an hourly wage and receive a biweekly paycheck for hours worked.

I don't want a job that pays FWS wages in the fall, but I plan to find one later in the year. Is that OK?

Absolutely! Just email and let us know that's your intent.

I haven't been hired yet. Do I have other options?

Aside from opportunities listed on the Student Job Board, you can find other non-work study, part time employment (e.g., retail, coffee shops, tutoring, etc) throughout Evanston and maybe even on-campus such as campus dining.  You can also check out QuadJobs, a third party website for community members or employers to post job openings. 

You may also be eligible to borrow a Subsidized Direct Loan instead.

Can I apply to jobs that don't require FWS eligibility? What happens if I do that?

Of course! You have the advantage of being able to apply for jobs that require FWS as well as those that do not. Once hired, you can ask  your supervisor to pay you with FWS wages as opposed to "regular student wages." See the Eligibility and Reminders page for additional information.


I have an off-campus job from the summer I'd like to continue working at. Can I earn FWS wages from this employer?

No. Only on-campus positions and pre-approved off-campus, Evanston-based non-profit organizations are eligible. You are, however, permitted to continue working for your employer and also obtain a FWS position simultaneously, if desired.

I'm currently working in an unpaid/volunteer/independent research experience in a Northwestern University lab. Can I be paid for my work with FWS?

It depends.

Federal regulations state that a student cannot be paid federal work-study wages unless the employer would normally pay a person for the same job. 

Additional guidance is shared on the Student Employment and Human Resources websites.  

All paid positions should be posted to the Student Job Board to allow equal opportunity for all interested and qualified candidates to apply.  

My job allows me to work remotely. Can I continue to be paid with FWS wages if I'm studying abroad or participating in another off-campus program?

Domestic (U.S.-based) Off-Campus Academic Programs: It depends.

If you will be enrolled at least half-time while away from campus and you have a work-study allotment during the quarter(s) of your off-campus program, you may be permitted to continue your work-study employment remotely. Your supervisor must continue to oversee your work and provide feedback and guidance as they would when you are on campus. If you will be outside of the state of Illinois, you may also need to report your temporary address to HR for tax purposes.

Study Abroad Programs: No.

You are not permitted to earn wages under the Federal Work-Study program while you are abroad; your work-study allotment for your study abroad quarter(s) will be canceled. If needed, you may be eligible to borrow a subsidized loan to make up for missed work-study earnings; contact the financial aid office if you have questions.

I declined my work-study. Am I still eligible?

Sure! Email us at and we can reinstate your award for you if it is the same academic year in which you declined the amount in your financial aid notice. 

Why should I be paid with FWS wages?

Being eligible for FWS is a great opportunity! There are many advantages to being paid as a FWS student than a student earning "regular wages." See the Eligibility and Reminders page for additional information.

I don't see work-study listed on my financial aid award. Am I eligible?

Most students who are eligible will have FWS included in their annual financial aid notice posted in CAESAR. If you don't see it or you're not sure about your eligibility, you may email us and we can check for you.

I was eligible for work-study in the past but I don't see it this year. Am I eligible?

Work-study is a need-based federal financial aid program, and your eligibility is determined annually based on your financial aid application. Changes to your financial circumstances, enrollment (e.g., less than half-time, study abroad, etc.), living arrangements (e.g., RA, living at home, etc.), and other factors can impact your work-study eligibility from year to year. If you have questions, you are welcome to call or email the financial aid office to speak with a counselor.

I didn't earn my full FWS noted in CAESAR. Now what?

Federal guidance does not permit students to be paid for hours not worked. It is up to you to schedule your hours with your supervisor so that you realize the full potential of your earnings ability. You can use the work-study calculator to determine how many hours you can work per week during the academic year based on your wage rate and FWS allotment.

How much have I earned?

Log into CAESAR. Click on the Financial Aid tile then select Work Study by Academic year. Enter 2024 for academic year 2023-24, enter 2024 for academic year 2024-25, etc.

You may also add up wages from the academic year from your pay stub (found in myHR).

Our office will email you once you are within $700 of earning your maximum allotment.

I’ve reached my FWS earnings limit. Can I receive additional funding eligibility?

Please review the information outlined on the Earning Limit Appeals webpage. 

Are taxes taken out on my paycheck?

Yes. FWS wages are considered taxable income for federal and state purposes. However, FICA (social security) tax are not withheld from your paycheck if you are enrolled full time during the academic year.

Where can I get my W-2?

Each year all Wage and Tax Statements (W-2 Forms) will be sent to the last known home address that is on file in the Office of Human Resources or made available for electronic download. You may be able to access your W-2 in myHR or call the Northwestern Payroll Office at (847) 491-7362.

Does FWS income affect how much financial aid I receive?

FWS earnings are excluded from FAFSA need analysis. Therefore, FWS wages won't impact your financial aid offered in future years, unlike normal wages.

Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, NU will report your gross FWS earnings for the prior calendar year to the US Department of Education. This information will subsequently and automatically be transferred to your FAFSA. For example, if you worked and earn FWS wages in calendar year 2023, it will be reported on the 2024-25 FAFSA.