Federal Work Study FAQs
Why did the University Scholarships and Financial Aid Services (USFAS) give me a Federal Work Study (FWS) award?
When you completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you indicated you were interested in FWS. FWS awards are based on "financial need," as determined by the FAFSA application and satisfaction of federal and institutional requirements. For more information on eligibility, contact the University Scholarships and Financial Aid Services office at 813-974-4700.
What is FWS?
USF has a pool of money that comes from a federal grant (Department of Education), and USF contributes matching funds which are used to create jobs and pay wages to students who receive Federal Work Study (FWS) awards and who want to work part-time while going to college. FWS funds are awarded during the fall and spring semesters. You must meet the eligibility requirements and then find a FWS job in order to earn your award money. As you work at your job, you may earn up to your award amount (and/or your employer's available FWS funds) in the form of wages, paid bi-weekly. Your total earnings will depend on a number of factors, such as how many hours you work, your rate of pay, the funds available to the department in which you work, etc. Thus, it is not uncommon for students to have remaining award money that they cannot earn. Discuss this with your supervisor if it is a concern.
I still don't know how the money part works. When I work in a FWS job, do I get paid
or does the university keep my pay and apply a credit toward my tuition, books, or
You will receive a paycheck bi-weekly and your earnings are intended to help defray your living and educational expenses. Be sure to discuss your award amount and your hours per week with your supervisor, as some departments/supervisors may not have enough funds to allow you to earn your entire FWS award amount.
If I want to take advantage of my FWS award, how do I find a job?
Most of the FWS jobs are on-campus working for various departments in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and other offices at USF that have received FWS spending authority allocation. (A spending authority allocation is basically an allotment of funds provided to each department which the department must manage.) All departments are required to post their FWS job openings in Careers@USF.
How much do FWS jobs pay?
After reviewing the job description and nature of the work, and taking into consideration the skill level of the student, hiring departments are authorized to establish the FWS hourly wage. The following job categories and pay ranges give you an example of potential pay ranges depending on the type of work you do and your experience:
General Support Pay Range is $8.05 - $9.50 per hour
A position is considered to fall within this category if it is considered a general support role and requires minimal to no experience. Positions in this category could include the following duties, tasks, and skills within the job description:
- Clerical duties such as filing, record keeping, operating office machines, typing, etc.
- General receptionist duties such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, referrals, etc.
- General duties such as desk duties, assisting students, security, facilities maintenance, running errands, operating equipment, etc.
- Courier duties such as mail sorting, pick-up, loading, etc.
- General physical labor such as moving furniture, set-up, delivery, outdoors, etc.
Reading Tutors/Community Service Pay Range is $9.50 - $10.50 per hour
- The jobs are off-campus part-time jobs in nonprofit community organizations. While most jobs involve tutoring, available jobs may vary each semester.
Specialists and Technicians Pay Range is $9.00-$12.50 per hour
A position is considered to fall within this category if it is considered to serve a specialized function which also involves more specialized training. Positions in this category require experience and/or specialized skills which demand greater on-the-job problem solving and attention to detail. Positions in this category could include the following duties, tasks, and skills within the job description:
- Specialized office support and customer service duties that require complex processing and communication skills.
- Computer skills such as upgrading equipment, database management, use of specialized software programs, etc.
- Laboratory skills such as preparing/performing laboratory experiments, cleaning equipment, preparing solutions, use of specialized machinery/technology, etc.
- Research skills such as collecting information, using specialized software programs, advanced data entry, etc.
Can I begin my job right away?
You negotiate this with your supervisor in your hiring department. Most students who elect to do FWS start their jobs during the first three weeks of classes and work until finals week of spring semester.
Can FWS students receive pay raises?
Students may receive a raise in their rate of pay at the beginning of each fall semester. It is recommended that the raise may not exceed $.25 per hour. Mid-year pay raises are not permitted unless a student's position description changes.
What happens if I plan to attend school during the summer?
During the summer, there is a separate program in place which is very similar to the FWS program; however, funding comes from institutional and state financial aid fees instead of the federal government. The program is called Summer Student Employment (SSE). SSE has similar eligibility requirements as FWS. The USFAS office will notify you in late spring if you may be eligible for SSE. If notified, you must have your supervisor (or potential supervisor) complete the form provided to you by USFAS and then take the form to USFAS to request to be awarded SSE. These funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis according to when you arrive at USFAS with your completed paperwork indicating you have a secured a SSE job for the summer.
What happens when I've earned the total amount of my FWS/SSE award (or the total amount
my department can spend on FWS has been exceeded) and there are still weeks remaining
in the semester?
Since your pay is being funded from the FWS grant, the hiring department must terminate your FWS/SSE job when you've earned the amount of your FWS award or they have spent all of their FWS funds, whichever comes first. For this reason, it is best for you to speak with your supervisor about making sure your hours and wages are divided evenly across the entire time you plan to spend on the job (fall and spring semesters). In rare cases, a department may continue your employment by paying you from their budget (versus from the FWS grant).
What if I choose not to take advantage of my FWS award because I've lined up another
job that I like?
That's your choice. About 60% of those who receive FWS awards take advantage of them. Keep in mind, however, that another benefit of FWS is that when you report your earnings as part of next year's FAFSA, the FWS earnings do not count against you in the computations used to determine the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive.
Can I be fired from my FWS job?
Yes. If you are hired, you are considered a regular USF employee. Like any other USF employee, if your supervisor feels you are not performing up to expectations, he or she has the right to terminate your appointment. This does not happen very often. Most students really enjoy their FWS jobs and the opportunity to work with members of the staff and faculty. In fact, most of the employers take an active interest in helping to mentor their FWS employees.
Are there any other FWS "rules" I need to be aware of?
- FWS students may not exceed 20 hours per week when classes are in session, with most students scheduling about 12-15 hours per week.
- Undergraduate students must be enrolled for at least 6 semester hours (half-time). If you drop some classes and fall below half-time, your FWS appointment may be terminated.
- If you plan on attending summer school sessions, there will be an opportunity to apply for a separate summer SSE award. Begin to look for this opportunity through notification from the USFAS office in the latter part of the spring term. Any of your unused FWS award money from fall/spring cannot be carried over to your summer term.
- And, just so you know... in the very rare situations where supervisors feel students have intentionally violated USF rules and policy, they will refer the matter to the appropriate agencies (Student Relations, Student Judicial Services, USF Human Resources Office, The Equal Opportunities Office, or the University Police) for investigation and disciplinary action as appropriate.
And if I have more questions, or need help...?
See your Financial Aid Advisor in the USFAS office for any questions related to your eligibility for an FWS award, or any adjustments to your award, or call (813) 974-4700.
If you have questions about how to find an FWS job, call the Career Services office at 813-974-2171 to set up an appointment with Jennifer Utroska, our Student Employment Coordinator. Ready to get your résumé and/or cover letter critiqued? Use Career Express walk-in hours to see one of our Career Peers or a career counselor to gain feedback.
See the supervisor in your hiring department if you have questions concerning hours worked, pay, time off, job performance, etc.