Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Federal Work-Study provides an opportunity to pay for some of your expenses and keep your student loan debt to a minimum through part-time work at the College.

A Work-Study position is a need-based form of student employment that is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Work-Study is offered as part of your financial aid package, and although wages are taxable, funds do not reflect as wages on your annual tax return. Earnings from FWS allow you to decline or reduce the loan amounts offered to you. We encourage you to submit your FAFSA no later than March 1 of the year you plan to attend, although you may still be considered for a Work-Study position if you file after March 1st.

How to Receive Federal Work-Study

If you are interested in a Federal Work-Study position, you must answer “Yes” to the Federal Work-Study question on your FAFSA. If you answer the question by saying "I Don't Know" or "No," you will not see Federal Work-Study funding appear on your award package. If you have Federal Work-Study funding in an "Offered" status on your TC Portal, you can only accept and access these funds after you obtain an FWS position.

Employment for International Students

For additional information on the international student experience at TC and to learn more about how other international students pay for their TC-related expenses, we encourage you to visit the Office of International Student Services website. The Office of International Student Services will provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding international student status and employment eligibility.

Learn more about other Student Employment opportunities.

*Most of the jobs are at Teachers College, which does not include Columbia or Barnard jobs.

*Only some off-campus contracts (detailed below) with outside agencies are approved before the start of each academic year. This allows students to work at those specific sites using their FWS funds from TC.

Policy Notes for Federal Work-Study

It is important to understand the logistics of the Federal Work-Study program. Many conditions apply, and you must adhere to them in order to maintain eligibility. If you receive an Federal Work-Study position, you will be given a document detailing all terms and conditions associated with being an Federal Work-Study student. Your supervisor must also agree and adhere to these conditions.

Eligibility

To be eligible for Federal Work-Study, students must meet several requirements:

  • Demonstrate financial need

  • File the FAFSA application every year by March 1st

  • Indicate on the FAFSA that they are interested in receiving Federal Work-Study funds

  • Be a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen

  • Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program

  • Be enrolled for at least six (6) credits (or the equivalent) per semester

  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress for each semester of attendance at TC

  • Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan

  • Not be a full-time employee at Teachers College, Columbia, or Barnard 

Need Determination

Need is determined by calculating the difference between the school's cost of attendance (COA) budget for the year and the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from a processed FAFSA application.

  • The COA budget is a high-end estimate calculated by the school to determine approximately how much a student may need to fund an education at Teachers College. It includes books and supplies, living expenses, tuition, and fees. It is NOT the actual cost of attending Teachers College. See our cost of attendance page for more information.

  • Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated by the U.S. Department of Education and is based on the information you provide on the FASFA. Many factors, such as your household size and your wages, can affect your EFC.

  • Students must show high need (i.e., have a low EFC) to qualify for any need-based financial aid.

Federal Work-Study Awarding Process

  • FWS is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend completing the FAFSA early.

  • Your EFC will be evaluated because Federal Work-Study is a need-based type of aid. Students with lower EFC will have higher financial need.

  • To make room in the financial aid budget for other types of funds (i.e., scholarship, federal loans), a student can cancel an FWS award by notifying the Office of Financial Aid.

  • If a student is only attending or working for half of the academic year, the award may be reduced as needed.

  • Students are offered a new award every year if the FAFSA has been submitted by the deadline and funding is available. (Note: Declining the award does not affect award eligibility of future aid years.)

How To Find a Federal Work-Study Position

  • In order to access and accept Federal Work-Study funds, you must obtain a Federal Work-Study position. (TC is not responsible for job placement activities for Federal Work-Study, including securing, hiring or terminating.)

  • To view available Federal Work-Study positions, students can filter select "student" positions on the Teachers College Human Resources page.

  • Postings are constantly updated, so students should check the listings regularly. Each position will list job duties, hours, contacts, and application requirements. The peak hiring season for work study positions will be from late-August to late-October, although a number of departments will also hire in the Spring semester.

  • Students will apply to jobs online (usually requires a resume and cover letter submission) and go through the hiring process with the respective departments/offices.

  • When a student resigns, is terminated from a job, or changes jobs, the Student Employment Manager at the Office of Financial Aid must be notified by the student. In such cases, the supervisor must also file a terminating E-PAF through the TC Portal. (Note: Access to the E-PAF can be granted by the HR Generalist. If changing jobs, the student needs to file a new contract at the Office of Financial Aid.)

Accepting an Federal Work-Study Position

  • Your Federal Work-Study funds will remain in "Offered" status until you find a FWS-eligible position; funds can only be accepted and accessed once you obtain a FWS position.

  • It is the student's responsibility to acquire an FWS job. To view available positions, visit the TC Human Resources website. After you have been hired, you will need to visit our office to complete all required paperwork and complete your on-boarding/work authorization online through PageUp.

You must accept the funds in person in our office by receiving and completing the Federal Work-Study Agreement Form and the Terms & Conditions Checklist document. In addition, you must also complete any on-boarding and work authorization documents as required by Federal Law with your hiring manager/supervisor. FWS does not require action in the TC Portal. Once these tasks are completed, a Financial Aid officer will update your funds to “Accepted” status.

*If you wish to decline your FWS funding, you can complete a Federal Aid Change Form.

*Any outstanding/unsatisfied Federal Work-Study requirements you may see on your Portal will not affect the disbursement of any other aid; you are able to let them remain outstanding/unsatisfied until you secure a position. 

 Terms and Conditions

  • Federal Work-Study must be part of your financial aid award package. If it is not part of your award package, contact our office. Students who are not awarded federal work study cannot be hired for a work-study position within any department.

  • You cannot work more than 20 hours a week while school is in session. During breaks (summer, holidays, winter break), you are able to work 30 hours per week. However, working 30 hours per week during breaks will not make you eligible to receive overtime pay.

  • Your timesheet must be submitted and approved by your supervisor online by the bi-weekly deadline as indicated by the Student Employment Manager. This is typically Monday Noon following the second work week (with the exception of holiday/break schedules) and the Student Employment Manager will send out any pertinent changes.

  • Please pay close attention to any regular communication from the Student Employment Manager about your award. For example, you will receive emails when you are getting close to your authorized award limit and when you have exhausted your award and can no longer work under the FWS program.

Compensation

  • Federal Work-Study students do not earn tuition points for their work.

  • Federal Work-Study students receive bi-weekly paychecks on pay dates noted on the pay schedule.

  • Federal Work-Study wages will be considered taxable income.

  • Federal Work-Study students will complete online time sheets in the TC Portal every two weeks in order to get paid.

  • Federal Work-Study students may work up to the awarded amount in the financial aid package. (Note: A hiring office/department may set a different limit, in which case the student can earn only up to the authorized limit. The rest of the funds from the financial aid award may be earned from a different Federal Work-Study job.)

  • Federal Work-Study students may use the award at any time during the academic year to earn funds for actual worked hours.

  • Pay will vary, but Federal Work-Study generally pays $13 to $16 per hour.

Work Locations

  • Students are allowed to hold up to two different work study positions as long as they do not exceed their maximum FWS award and the weekly hour limit.

  • Typically, positions will be on-campus, although there are a few certified off-campus sites through the Office of School and Community Partnerships.

  • Federal Work-Study funds may ONLY be used at certified on and off-campus sites.

  • Students cannot use their award at any other division or affiliate of Columbia; positions are TC-campus based with the exception of approved off-campus sites (see below).

  • Approved off-campus sites: sites through the Office of School & Community Partnerships (Cahn Fellows, OSCP, and  TCCS), Jumpstart and Community Impact.  Note: Contracts can change from one year to the next.

Employment Calendar: The Federal Work-Study year (which is different from an academic year) runs from July 1st to June 30th of the following year.

  • New students, first time attending TC:

    • Only students who are enrolled in summer courses for at least six (6) credits (or the equivalent) may begin working in the beginning of July.

    • Students starting courses in the Fall may begin working the first day of Fall classes.

    • Students starting courses in the Spring may begin working the first day of Spring classes.

  • Continuing students, have attended at least one term at TC for at least half-time (six [6] credits or the equivalent):

    • Can work during the summer without enrolling for classes, IF attending for Fall in the following academic year for at least six (6) credits (or the equivalent), AND were enrolled in six (6) credits during the previous Spring semester.

  • Graduating students or those who are leaving TC:

    • Can work during the last term of attendance IF enrolled for at least six (6) credits (or the equivalent).

    • Cannot work past the last day of attending classes or June 30th, whichever comes first.

Employee On-boarding: Once awarded a Federal Work-Study position, a student needs to complete the on-boarding process online through PageUp and visit the Office of Financial Aid for required paperwork:

  • PageUp Online Job Offer and Work Authorization: To be completed by all first-time employees of TC (regardless of the type of employment) when getting authorized for the job. The Departmental Hiring Manager/supervisor will initiate the on-boarding process by sending a contingent job offer. Once the student has accepted a job offer, all employment details and employment authorization must be completed within PageUp prior to the start date.

  • Rehire Documents: Students employees (work study, interim, graduate assistants) who have worked at TC in some capacity may be required to complete re-hiring documents. The hiring department and student should ensure that all hiring documents are up-to-date with their HR Generalist at the Human Resources Office.

  • FWS Agreement Contract: To be completed by all Federal Work-Study employees every year or for any additional work-study job. Includes terms and conditions and available at the Office of Financial Aid. Note: Failure to complete the FWS Agreement Contract and Terms at the Office of Financial Aid WILL result in the termination of your work study job offer and/or paycheck and payment delays. It is the student and hiring department's responsibility to obtain and return the required forms in advance within a timely manner at the Office of Financial Aid.

  • Change Form: To be completed when a student employee changes a job or adds a job to ensure paychecks are delivered to the correct TC mailbox. Available at the Office of Human Resources.

  • Timesheets: All workers must submit bi-weekly timesheets to the Office of Financial Aid to get paid.W-4 and IT-2104 Forms: Every December, employed student workers must update these forms if needed. This allows Payroll to take the correct amount of deductions from their paychecks.

    • There are separate timesheets for Federal Work-Study (Account #7829) employees and interim (Account #6254) employees. Only Federal Work-Study students who have been approved by the Office of Financial Aid should complete and submit the FWS timesheet.
    • A student working multiple jobs and/or under multiple budgets must submit one timesheet per job or per budget index.
    • If an employee neglects to submit a bi-weekly timesheet on time, the employee must contact the Student Employment Manager to initiate a late timesheet process. The Student Employment Manager also has the ability to reject an excessively late work study time sheet and the earnings will be charged to a departmental interim budget.
  • E-PAF: All students who resign from a position for any reason or get terminated must notify the Student Employment Manager in the Office of Financial Aid. They should also ensure that the supervisor is completing the termination process (E-PAF) for Human Resources purposes.

  • Students can view/track their gross earnings and net earnings through TC Portal from the financial aid section and the pay stub sections, respectively. For a guide, see the "Documents & Forms" section within the Student Perspective in TC Portal.

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