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.
Federal Work-Study 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 wages are taxable on federal and state income tax returns. Earnings from FWS may 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.
Many conditions apply to the FWS program and students must adhere to them in order to establish and maintain eligibility. If you receive a 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.
To be eligible for Federal Work-Study, students must meet several requirements:
File the FAFSA application every year by March 1st and demonstrate financial need
Indicate "Yes" when asked if interested in receiving Federal Work Study funds
Must be authorized to work within the United States
Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program for at least six (6) credits or 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 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.
FWS is awarded based on budget availability so we recommend completing the FAFSA early.
Students who are not initially offered Work Study funding may submit a completed copy of the Federal Work Study and TEACH Grant Change Form in order to request a place on the waitlist for FWS. This form is available here.
Your EFC will be evaluated because Federal Work-Study is a need-based type of aid. Students with a lower EFC are considered to 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.)
In order to access and accept Federal Work-Study funds, you must obtain a Federal Work-Study position. While the Office of Financial Aid assists with information and support related to the Work Study hiring process, TC is not responsible for job placement activities for Federal Work-Study.
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. In order to view and apply for available Federal Work-Study positions, students can filter select "student" positions on the Teachers College Human Resources page.
TC students are only authorized to hold Federal Work Study positions either at Teachers College or at approved off-campus sites, which do not include Columbia or Barnard jobs. TC students interested in working at Columbia or Barnard may research other student employment opportunities outside of the Federal Work Study program.
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. The Office of Financial Aid welcomes communications from other off-campus agencies interested in partnering with the Work Study program at TC. Please note that approval to serve as a new off-campus Work Study site is not guaranteed as a result of initiating an application.
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 and supervisor. In such cases, the supervisor must also file a termination 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.)
Your Federal Work-Study funds will remain in "Offered" status until you find a FWS-eligible position; funds can only be accepted 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 onboarding/work authorization via PageUp, Human Resources, and your supervisor before you begin working.
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 Work Study and TEACH Grant 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.
Federal Work-Study must be part of your financial aid award package for the academic year in question in order for you to obtain a Federal Work-Study position that year. 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 if you are enrolled at least half-time for both the term immediately preceding the break and the term immediately following. 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.
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 be 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.
Federal Work-Study generally pays $15 to $16 per hour.
Students are allowed to hold up to two different Work Study positions at a time 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. If you would like to inquire about the process of certifying a new off-campus FWS site at Teachers College, please contact the Student Employment Manager for more information.
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.
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 after the first day of Fall classes.
Students starting courses in the Spring may begin working after the first day of Spring classes.
Continuing students, have attended at least one term at TC 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 (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.
PageUp Online Job Offer: 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 and completed the post-offer on-boarding steps, all employment details and employment authorization must be completed within PageUp prior to the start date.
FWS Agreement Contract and Terms: To be completed by all Federal Work-Study employees every year or for any additional work-study job.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.
Rehire Documents: Students workers (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.
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 be paid. Student workers may update W-4 and IT-2104 forms if needed. This allows the Payroll Department to apply the correct number of deductions from each paycheck.
E-PAF: All students who resign from a position for any reason or are 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 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 Students and Scholars website. The Office of International Students and Scholars will provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding international student status and employment eligibility.
Learn more about other Student Employment opportunities.