Work-Study Questions

Are work-study earnings taxable?

The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time).

Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI on the FAFSA. Work-study earnings should only be included when they represent financial aid to the student, since the answer to this question is used as an exclusion from taxed income. The student should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.

How do I apply?

To be considered for this award, you must fill out your financial aid applications by an established filing deadline and request consideration for FWS by checking the appropriate box on the FAFSA. FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first served basis. The College receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards. Once this money is awarded, there is no more for that academic year. You are encouraged to file your financial aid applications early when you receive your award letter from the College, it will indicate whether or not you have been awarded FWS.

Where would I work?

Where you work depends on the amount of your award, class schedule and job skills. To the maximum extent possible, the FWS Placement or Financial Aid Office tries to place you in a job that complements or reinforces your educational program or career goals. You may work either on-campus in one of the departments of the College or off-campus at a number of non-profit community service agencies. Also, it may be possible for you to work at selected companies in the private sector that choose to participate in the program. If you receive a small award or have a heavy class schedule, you will usually be placed on-campus.

Can I choose where I would like to work?

Yes. If you receive FWS, you will come to the Financial Aid or Placement Office at the beginning of the term for placement.

You will usually be given a list of jobs available.

After selecting a job, you will arrange for an interview with the work-study employer and travel to the job site with a work-study employment contract. If you are hired, you and your work-study employer will sign the contract and you will return it to the work-study placement office. You may then begin to work.

Note: if you are not hired, you must return the unsigned contract to the work-study placement office, choose another job assignment, arrange for another interview and get a new contract for your employer to sign.

Can I earn as much money as I want?

No. Your FWS award represents the maximum amount you may earn for the academic year. How much of the total award you actually receive depends upon your rate of pay, the total number of hours you work each week and the number of weeks you work in the year. Once you have earned your maximum FWS award, you will have to stop working.

Am I paid an hourly wage or a salary?

You are paid by the hour, your rate of pay being determined by the job location and the nature of the work involved. You will receive at least $7.25 per hour for on-campus positions. The rate of pay can be higher for jobs off-campus but will be no lower than $7.25 per hour.

How will I be paid?

Every two weeks, your supervisor submits a time sheet for you. After your first time sheet is submitted, you may have to wait up to 4 weeks for your first check. Subsequently, you will receive a paycheck every two weeks.

If I am unable to earn my entire award, will I be able to receive the rest of the money?

No. You can be paid only for the hours you have worked. If you cannot earn your entire FWS award before the end of the academic year, the unearned portion of your award is returned to the program.

How many credits do I have to take for FWS eligibility?

You must register for and maintain an enrollment status of half-time (6 credits or equated credits) or greater to be eligible for FWS. If, for any reason, your course load falls below half-time, you can no longer participate in the program and must stop working.

Do I have to stop working if I withdraw from school?

Yes. If you withdraw from school for any reason, you lose your eligibility for FWS and must stop working.

I am currently receiving unemployment. Do I have to report FWS earnings to the unemployment office?

Yes. If you are receiving unemployment insurance benefits and are also employed in the FWS program, you must notify your local unemployment office that you are working in the FWS program. The New York State Department of Labor considers it willful misrepresentation to collect unemployment benefits without revealing that you are also receiving FWS.

Are FWS earnings taxable?

Yes. FWS earnings are considered taxable income by both federal and state governments. However, FWS earnings are not included in the calculation of your eligibility for financial aid.

Why do I have to fill out an I-9 Form?

According to federal law, the identity and work eligibility of all FWS students must be verified before beginning a FWS assignment. You will have to complete an I-9 form and present certain documents to an appropriate FWS representative. You may not participate in the on-campus FWS program until you have filed an I-9 form with the Financial Aid Office. If you work off-campus, you will file your I-9 with your off-campus employer.

What are the benefits of the FWS program?

If you have never had a job, the FWS program can give you your first exposure to the world of work. FWS employers are often willing to give you on-the-job training. You can find positions relating directly to your program of study or career choice, thereby gaining valuable job experience. You may learn about giving something back to the community through a community service related FWS position. When seeking regular employment after graduation, you may use your FWS job as an employment reference. If you are enrolled in the Cooperative Education department, you can sometimes use your FWS job to fulfill your internship requirement. Finally, you could be taken on as a regular employee by the employer you worked for as a FWS student.