Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a need-based form of financial aid provided to students through part-time employment that is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. FWS lets you earn wages funded by federal financial aid. The money you earn can help you pay your expenses, and reduce the amount you need to borrow in loans. Students may be eligible to earn up to $9,000 per academic year in FWS funds; however, your maximum eligibility for earning does not guarantee actual earnings, as this may vary based on job specifications along with your individual interests and obligations. FWS amounts may also change in future years.

FWS aid is limited. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and:

  • Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year by March 1st and meet financial need requirements
  • Enroll in a degree-seeking program at least half-time (or the equivalent) per semester
  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress

If you do not initially receive FWS funding, you may join the waitlist by submitting the Federal Work-Study Waitlist Form. You may accept or decline a FWS award on your TC student portal. If you decline an FWS award, your eligibility for other federal student aid sources may adjust as a result.

Note: We encourage you to leave enough time for your academic work. If you are a full-time employee at Teachers College, Columbia, or Barnard College, your schedule may not be able to accommodate an FWS job. 

The Office of Financial Aid will provide you with information about how to find FWS jobs, but you are responsible for applying to and securing an FWS job, as well as earning the allotted funds. In other words, you do not receive FWS funds automatically. If you do not find and work in an FWS job, then you will not have access to the FWS funding listed in your financial aid offer. You may apply for FWS jobs just as you would for other jobs, by applying online and going through the hiring process. Please note that students who are qualified for FWS funds are not guaranteed an FWS job. 

Please visit the On-Campus Student Employment website to find an FWS position.

You can find FWS jobs on campus at Teachers College, and there are a few certified off-campus FWS job sites through the Office of School and Community Partnerships, Jumpstart, and Community Impact. Off-campus FWS jobs may change from one year to the next.

There are no FWS jobs for Teachers College students at Columbia University or Barnard College. If you have questions about certifying a new off-campus FWS site for Teachers College, please contact the Student Employment Manager for more information.

Federal Work-Study Job Details

As an FWS student, you may work up to the amount indicated in your financial aid package. FWS jobs pay $18 per hour. The funds will come to you in the form of a taxed, bi-weekly paycheck or a direct deposit. The money you earn is yours to use as you see fit. Your earned Federal Work-Study money will not automatically pay any charges on your student account, nor will it be used to pay your tuition. Also, you will receive a W-2 issued by the College at the end of the calendar year that reflects all College earnings for that year. Please note that Federal Work-Study students are not eligible for any fringe benefits, such as paid breaks, paid sick time, paid vacation days, paid holidays, or unemployment benefits.

You and your hiring manager should monitor your work hours and FWS award because you may not be paid from FWS funds beyond your award. Therefore, if you will continue working with a department after you have received your full FWS award earnings, the hiring department is responsible for compensating you through their interim budget.  

You can work up to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters, or up to 30 hours per week during winter, holiday, and summer breaks. Please note that you are not permitted to work during your scheduled class hours. You may also hold up to two (2) FWS positions during the same term, as long as you do not exceed your maximum FWS amount or the weekly hour limit. Additionally, you may not work more than six (6) consecutive hours without taking an unpaid, half-hour break. Supervisors should carefully monitor timesheets and be sure to schedule Work-Study Student Staff with required breaks in mind.

You will be paid bi-weekly, and you should submit your timesheet through your myTC following that payroll schedule. Please refer to the Web Time Entry for Work-Study Instructional Document for assistance with submitting your timesheet.

The Federal Work-Study year uses a special calendar that begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th of the following year. You may begin working after the first day of fall or spring classes, whether you begin your courses in either term. 


Summer FWS jobs

If you would like to work in a FWS position during the summer term, follow these guidelines:

  • If you are a new student attending Teachers College for the first time and are enrolled at least half-time in summer courses, then you may start to work in an FWS job at the beginning of July.
  • If you have attended at least one term at TC, you can work during the summer term without enrolling in classes, as long as you are enrolled for the upcoming Fall semester at least half-time and you were enrolled at least half-time during the previous Spring semester.

You can work during your last term before graduation if you’re enrolled half-time, but you cannot work past the last day of classes or June 30th, whichever comes first.

Once you secure a FWS position, you are responsible for completing the steps in the onboarding process. You must complete all steps in order to receive payment from a FWS job.

  • Complete the required on-boarding steps within the PageUp platform.
  • Use the myTC portal to accept (or decline) the FWS financial aid. If you accept, then you will be prompted to review and agree to the FWS terms and conditions.
  • Update your W-4 and IT-2104 forms if needed.
  • If you are a new employee, visit the Office of Human Resources before your start date to complete the I-9 authorization process. I-9 Work Authorization is required by federal law.
  • If you have previously worked at TC in some capacity, you may be required to complete re-hiring documents.
  • Your Work-Study wages are taxable on federal and state income tax returns. 
  • You can only be hired for Work-Study positions within a department if you have FWS listed as part of your financial award package. You may work up to 20 hours a week during the Fall and Spring semesters. During breaks in the academic calendar, you can work 30 hours per week if you are enrolled at least half-time for both the term immediately preceding the break and the term immediately following the break. Working 30 hours per week during breaks does not make you eligible for overtime pay.
  • Submit your timesheets and get them approved by your supervisor before the bi-weekly deadline, which is typically Monday at noon following the second work week. If you are working multiple jobs under multiple budgets, you must submit one timesheet per job or budget index. There are separate timesheets for FWS employees (Account #7829) and interim employees (Account #6254). Submit FWS timesheets only if you have been approved by the Office of Financial Aid.
  • Monitor communication from the Student Employment Manager about your FWS aid. When you are getting close to your FWS limit, you will receive a notification. In addition, we will contact you when you have exhausted your award and can no longer work under the FWS program.
  • If you resign, are terminated, or change FWS jobs, you must notify the Student Employment Manager. In addition, please ensure that your supervisor completes the termination process (E-PAF) for Human Resources. 
  • You may decline your FWS funding via the myTC portal. 
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