Federal Work Study Program

The Federal Work Study Program (FWSP) is a federally funded financial aid program available to US citizens and permanent residents. The mandate of the program is to assist students with the cost of their college education by providing a subsidy to employers for part time student employment. The program is dependent on the student applying for financial aid through the FAFSA and qualifying based on their financial need. Through FWSP, the Federal government pays anywhere from 50% to 100% of a student’s wages but the most common scenario is a 70% / 30% between the government and the employer.

FWSP comes with rules and regulations for student and employer eligibility. To comply with the law, the University has established guidelines and processes which must be followed by both students and employers.

Many students are confused by the term ‘work-study’ and think that they are eligible for this benefit simply based on the grounds that they are working while studying at college. In fact, FWSP refers specifically to the federally funded financial aid program designed to help students meet their education costs while also making it easier to find part-time on and off campus jobs.

If you are a Harvard administrator with questions about On-Campus Federal Work Study please visit the On-Campus FWSP section.

How do I find out if I am Federal Work Study eligible?

Undergraduates can check at my.harvard.edu by reviewing their financial aid award letter. The line item would look as so: Term Time Work Expectation (Work Study).

Graduate students should inquire with their school's financial aid office.

How do I receive my Federal Work Study award?

Federal Work Study is not a lump sum grant.

You are eligible to earn up to the dollar amount listed on your financial aid award letter over the course of the term-time or summer employment. You are not guaranteed this money, nor are you required to earn it all. If you would like to earn the dollar amount listed on your financial aid award letter, you need to find a job and work the appropriate amount of hours. You will receive the money in weekly paychecks based on your hourly wage and hours worked.

In order to activate your Federal Work Study you must register the job with the student employment office.

What is a Referral Form and who is responsible for completing it?

The Referral Form registers a work study job with the Student Employment Office. The SEO will then activate the WST time reporting code in PeopleSoft thereby allowing students to accurately report their time and administrators to take advantage of the significant cost savings associate with Federal Work Study. The form requests basic information about the position and also the department's TUB/ORG. It may be completed by either the student or the supervisor.

Both parties will receive an email confirming the student's Federal Work Study eligibility. If eligible, the supervisor or payroll administrator should reply to the email with the student worker's PeopleSoft Employee Record Number.

Since FWSP is a Federally-funded program, we are required to ensure that students are eligible for FWSP before they are paid out of Harvard’s work-study budget. We are able to assign work-study time reporting codes to students who we know have jobs and are eligible for FWSP funding. Unless we have a referral card on file for your employee, he or she will not have access to work-study coding.

You will receive an e-mail from the Student Employment Office the business day after submitting a referral form, notifying you that your employee is either ready to hire, or not eligible for FWSP.

What is the wage range for Work Study jobs?

The wage range for Federal Work Study student workers is:

Minimum Maximum
Undergrad: $11.00 $16.00
Graduate: $13.50 $20.00

Is my Work Study award just for the semester or for the whole academic year?

Your Federal Work Study award is for the full academic year so plan accordingly.

My financial aid award letter lists a 'Term Time Work Expectation'. What is that?

You are expected to contribute toward the cost of your education through a Term Time Work Expectation. Although this isn't necessarily toward the cost of tuition. Books, school supplies, travel to and from home, and other personal expenses are considered part of the overall cost of attending Harvard College.

The important thing to understand is that earnings through a part time job do not have to be paid to Harvard or to the Financial Aid Office.

If you have an outside award it will first reduce your Term Time Work Expectation. For example it is typical for upperclassmen to have a work expectation of $3,500. If a student receives an outside award for $2,500 it will lower her/his work expectation to $1,000. If you are Federal Work Study eligible then this outside award will reduce your Work Study award.

Is Federal Work Study available in the summer?

Yes. Since Federal Work Study is a form of financial aid you have to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible and apply for financial aid through Harvard. You will also have to complete a short form indicating your interest in Summer Federal Work Study.

The award is $5,500 and the dates when it can be used/earned fluctuates on a yearly basis.

For more information: http://seo.harvard.edu/summer-fwsp

I have a job offer, can I start working immediately?

Once you have been offered a job, please register your FWSP job with the SEO. There are instructions for completing this form based on whether you will be working on or off-campus; you may want to speak with your employer before completing this as some of the information required is specific to their department or agency. Once the SEO receives and processes the form, a confirmation email authorizing work study will be sent to you and your supervisor.

Be sure to read up on your responsibilities as a student worker and how to be a good employee.

Can I have more than one job on Work Study?

Yes but you will be asked to split your award between the two jobs. Be sure to register both jobs with the Student Employment Office.

Can I work during winter recess, spring break, etc.?

Students may continue their employment during winter recess, any holiday, spring break or the summer.

Students utilizing their Federal Work Study awards may also work during winter recess, any holiday, or spring break. For summer work there is a special procedure. Learn more about Summer Federal Work Study.

I don't see WST as a Time Reporting Code anymore. What now?

Report the time as REG so that there is no disruption in pay then contact the Harvard Student Employment Office to report the missing Time Reporting Code.

How much in work study earnings do I have remaining?

There is no easy way for you to check on your own. One possible method is to deduce the information from your paystub (found in PeopleSoft). But you may also ask your supervisor or email the Student Employment Office.