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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Student Employment > Federal Work-Study (FWS)

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Student Employment

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

General Information
Federal Work-Study is a form of student employment that is awarded to students on the basis of need. It is also awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, we encourage students to submit their FAFSA no later than March 1 of the year you plan to attend. For example, if you plan to attend in Fall 2014, you should have submitted your FAFSA by March 1, 2014. Submitting your FAFSA after March 1 does not mean that you will not be considered for Federal Work-Study; this is simply a recommendation.

It is imperative that you indicate interest in receiving Federal Work-Study 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 (FWS) funding in an "Offered" status on your TC Portal, you cannot access those funds until you receive a FWS position. Note that these funds are offered, and cannot be accepted until you find a FWS position. The Office of Financial Aid does not automatically assign FWS positions; it is the student's responsibility to acquire a FWS job. You must visit the TC Human Resources website to view available positions, then come to our office to fulfill your requirements after you have been hired.

You must leave your FWS funds in "Offered" until you find a FWS-eligible position. There is nothing you need to do on the TC Portal to formally accept those funds. Once you are hired, you will come to our office to acquire the paperwork, tax forms, and instructions necessary to commence employment. When we receive your completed documents, the FWS requirements will become satisfied and a member of our office will put your FWS funds into an "Accepted" status. The three outstanding/unsatisfied FWS 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.

Federal Work-Study students do not earn tuition points for their work. They earn bi-weekly paychecks. Note that Federal Work-Study will be considered taxed income. You will complete online time sheets in your TC Portal every two weeks in order to get paid.

If you wish to decline your FWS funding, you can complete a 2013-2014 Loan and Work-Study Change Form.

How is need determined?
“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 formula used to calculate need is COA - EFC = Need.
  • The cost of attendance budget is a high-end estimate calculated by the school to determine approximately how much a student may potentially need to fund their education at Teachers College. It includes books and supplies, living expenses, tuition, and fees. It is NOT the actual cost of attending Teachers College. Please see our cost of attendance page for more information.
  • Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a number that is based on the information you put on the FAFSA. Things such as your household size and your wages can affect your EFC. Teachers College does not determine your EFC; the federal processors who receive your FAFSA create this number using a mathematical formula.
  • Students must show high need (i.e. have a low EFC) to qualify for any need-based financial aid.
Federal Work-Study's Purpose
  • To encourage part-time employment of students in need of additional earnings. The program is aimed at helping to offset the cost of attendance and other education-related expenses.
  • To encourage students to participate in on-campus and community-based* activities/services specific to the educational goals of Teachers College.
*Most of the jobs are at TC, 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 Federal Work-Study funds from TC.

To be eligible for Federal Work-Study, several requirements must be met by the student:
  • Demonstrate financial need.
  • File the FAFSA application every year by March 1st.
  • Indicate on the FAFSA that he/she is 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 credits (or the equivalent) per semester.
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress while attending Teachers College.
  • Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
  • Not be a full-time employee at TC, Columbia, or Barnard

*This is very important. Some students who would otherwise be eligible for Federal Work-Study do not see it on their award package because they said that they were either not interested or did not know if they were interested in Federal Work-Study. You must say "Yes" (and meet the other requirements) if you want to be eligible to receive Federal Work-Study!

Federal Work-Study Awarding Process
  • FWS is awarded on a first come, first serve basis. This is why we recommend doing the FAFSA early.
  • Your EFC will be evaluated because Federal Work-Study is a need-based type of aid. Students with lower EFCs will have higher financial need.
  • Awards can be cancelled to make room in the financial aid budget for other types of funds (i.e. scholarship, federal loans). A student must notify the Office of Financial Aid in this situation.
  • 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 years.)
How does Federal Work-Study work?
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 a Federal Work-Study position, you will be given a document detailing all terms and conditions associated with being a Federal Work-Study student. Your supervisor must also agree and adhere to these conditions. Here are the details:
  • Federal Work-Study must be part of your financial aid award package. If it is not part of your award package, you may contact our office.
  • You 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 only earn up to that limit. The rest of the funds from the financial aid award may be earned from a different Federal Work-Study job.)
  • You may use your award at any time during the academic year to earn funds for actual worked hours. 
  • Pay will vary, but you will generally earn $12 to $15 per hour.
  • 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. Working 30 hours per week during breaks will not make you eligible to receive overtime pay.
  • You must submit one work study timesheet to the Office of Financial Aid on the due date (by the Monday noon followinng the end of the second work week). You will find timesheet due dates and payment dates on the respective pay schedule found in the TC Portal > TC Services tab > TC Bookmarks section > expand 'Payroll' > "Work Study Payroll Schedule".
  • You will receive biweekly paychecks on pay dates noted on the pay schedule.
  • You will receive regular communication from the Student Employment Manager about your award. Students must pay close attention to these e-mails, as they will contain pertinent information. For example, you will receive e-mails 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.
  • If you work past your award limit or work during unauthorized periods (such as after graduation), the department will have to compensate you from their interim budget.

Where can you work?

  • Students are allowed to work in two different departments as long as they do not exceed their maximum Federal Work-Study 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.
  • In most cases, students cannot use their award at any other division or affiliate of Columbia. There are a small number of community service programs that are an exception to this rule.
  • Approved off-campus sites: sites through the Office of School & Community Partnerships (for example: Cahn Fellows, OSCP, IUME, PSC, TCCS, Reading/Math Buddy, and/or NCREST), Jumpstart, and Community Impact.  Note: Contracts can change from one year to the next.

When can you begin working?
The Federal Work-Study year (which is different from an academic year) runs from July 1st to June 30th of the following year (i.e. the 2014-2015 year runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015):

  • New students, first time attending Teachers College:
    • Only students enrolled in summer courses for at least six credits (or the equivalent) may begin working from the authorized July date for that year.
    • 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 Teachers College for at least half-time (six 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 credits (or the equivalent).
  • Graduating students or those who are leaving Teachers College:
    • Can work during the last term of attendance IF enrolled for at least six credits (or the equivalent).
    • Cannot work past the last day of attending classes, or June 30th, whichever comes first.
The Job Process
You will not have access to your Federal Work-Study funds unless you receive a Federal Work-Study position. Read the information below to learn how to secure a FWS job.
  • To view available Federal Work-Study positions, students must search the Student Positions link on the Teachers College Human Resources page.
  • Postings are constantly being updated, so you should check the listings regularly. Each position will list department salary, hours, job duties, contacts, and application requirements.  Note: If the position listing date is relatively old, please verify with department/office to ensure they are still hiring before submitting the application as that just may be an old posting that is not really active.
  • 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.
  • After a student is hired, they MUST come to the Office of Financial Aid to obtain a Federal Work-Study Agreement Form and a Terms & Conditions Checklist (also called the contract). This must be done before they begin working. Depending on the student, he/she will also be given a post-hire packet. In some cases, you may be directed to Human Resources to complete a rehire packet.
  • When a student resigns, is terminated from a job, or changes jobs, the Student Employment Manager at the Office of Financial Aid must be informed. In such cases, the supervisor must also file a terminating E-PAF through their TC Portal. (Note: Access to the E-PAF can be granted by the HR Generalist. If changing jobs, new contract needs to be filed at the Office of Financial Aid by the student.)
  • All 1st time employees at TC (regardless of the type of employment) must complete the post-hire packet when getting authorized for the first job. Only Federal Work-Study students will get this packet at the Office of Financial Aid; other employees may get it through the Office of Human Resources.
  • All employees who have worked at TC in some capacity before may need to complete a rehire packet with the Office of Human Resources. 
  • All Federal Work-Study employees must complete the contract (the contract includes the terms & conditions checklist and agreement forms) every year or for any additional work study job. These forms are available at the Office of Financial Aid.
  • All continuing employees should also retain a copy of the info packet from the Office of Financial Aid for pertinent work study information for that year, such as information on timesheets, the pay schedule, and budgeting worksheets (available at the bottom of this page).
  • When a student worker changes a job or adds an additional job, a change form may need to be completed at the Office of Human Resources. This form will make the appropriate changes to your information so that your paychecks will go to the right TC mailbox. 
  • All workers must submit bi-weekly online timesheets to the Office of Financial Aid to get paid.
    • 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 Federal Work-Study timesheet.
    • A student working for multiple jobs and/or under multiple budgets must submit one timesheet per job or per budget index.
  • Every December: employed student workers must update the W-4 and IT-2104 Forms, if needed. This allows Payroll to take the correct amount of deductions from their paychecks. 
  • 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 ensure that the supervisor is completing the termination process (E-PAF) for Human Resources purposes, as well. Supervisors can contact their HR generalist, if they need guidance on how to complete the E-PAF for terminations.
  • Supervisors will need to submit respective E-PAFs for certain changes also (effective from 2013-14 aid year): 1) new hire E-PAF for a 1st time employee in work study, 2) rehire E-PAF for a student perviously terminated, 3) labor/rate change E-PAF when the index/budget and/or pay rate needs to be changed, and lastly, 4) transfer to interim E-PAF when a student will continue to earn beyond work study limits but under the department or office interim line.
  • Students can view/track their gross earnings and net earnings through TC Portal from the financial aid section and the pay stub sections, respectively.  A guide to that is provided in the "Documents & Forms" section below within Student Perspective in TC Portal.
Documents & Forms
  • Federal Work Study Timesheet - This is available in TC Portal > TC Services tab after a student is hired and authorized to work.  Pay rate and Index (Budget) Number is listed on it as in the student's completed Agreement Form on the Hiring Department section. The account number is always 7829 for Federal Work-Study.  Note: The training handouts for students to complete and supervisors to approve a timesheet can be found in the TC Portal > TC Services tab > TC Bookmarks section > expand 'Payroll' > "WTE for Work Study Instructional Document" and "WTE for Work Study Approvers Instructional Document", respectively.  
  • "Half Timesheets" - During the transition from one aid year into the next, we usually have Week One in the old year and Week Two in the new year. Students should NOT enter any work days until June 30th in a timesheet together with any worked days in July 1st onwards.  We will block off the 1st week of the new year every year as web-time entry will not allow for segregation of years.  For example: for 2012-13, the last period included 6/24 - 6/30 and 7/1 - 7/7 as the 2 work weeks, but all work study students were instructed NOT to work for 7/1 - 7/7 and thereby did not need to enter hours to cause conflicts in end-of-the year accounting.  
  • Pay schedule - Lists timesheet due dates and pay dates for each bi-weekly pay period.   This is found in the TC Portal > TC Services tab > TC Bookmarks section > expand 'Payroll' > "Work Study Payroll Schedule".   Note: Timesheets are due by the Monday noon followinng the end of the second work week, which is different than other employees who have until Tuesday noon, because the approval process needed for work study has an extra step in the Office of Financial Aid.
  • Federal work study budgeting worksheet - An optional guide to help students keep track of their funds and ensure that they do not exceed their fund limit. There is an example provided to help you understand how to complete this worksheet. Students can alter it or create their own method of tracking their earnings.  All students must keep track of their earnings!
  • Student Perspective in TC Portal - Shows students how to access their pay stubs and see their gross and net earnings. (Note: The work week dates on the pay stub screen is NOT for Federal Work-study; students should always follow the pay schedule dates.)
  • Post-Hire Packet (paper forms available only at the office) - Collects demographic and tax-related information for the Office of Human Resources. Students must see the Student Employment Manager to collect this packet. It must be completed by all first-time employees at Teachers College. This also includes the instructions for completing the paperwork and the info packet.
  • Info Packet- A combination of the above handouts: information about completing timesheets, where to find the pay schedule, budgeting worksheet, and the student perspective in TC Portal.
  • Terms & Conditions (paper form available only at the office) - Lists all the pertinent terms and conditions for working under this federal program. This forms is to be picked up at the Office of Financial Aid. It must be completed before working every year, and for any additional Federal Work-Study jobs.
  • Agreement Form (paper form available only at the office): verifies the eligibility of the student for work study, and lists the details of the job contract by the supervisor. This form is to be picked up at the Office of Financial Aid. It must be completed before working every year, and for any additional work study jobs.
  • Forms that need to be collected from the Office of Human Resources, if you need them: the rehire packet and the change form. The W-4 and IT-2104 forms are downloadable from the TC Human Resources website and should be updated as often as needed.
  • Supervisors can obtain a reference copy of the Federal Work Study Supervisor Handbook by simply contacting the Student Employment Manager.