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.

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 housing?

You will receive a paycheck bi-weekly and your earnings are intended to help defray your living and educational expenses. The paycheck is deposited into the bank account of your choice, however, and you are able to use that money toward whatever expenses you may have. The university does not keep your pay.

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.)

Detailed instructions for searching and applying for FWS positions can be found on the FWS Overview page.

What if I need help creating a resume or cover letter?

You can get help with your resume and cover letter at Career Express, our walk-in service.

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
  • General receptionist duties such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, referrals
  • General duties such as desk duties, assisting students, security, facilities maintenance, running errands, operating equipment
  • Courier duties such as mail sorting, pick-up, loading
  • General physical labor such as moving furniture, set-up, delivery, outdoors

Reading Tutors/Community Service Pay Range is $9.50 - $10.50 per hour
These jobs are off-campus part-time jobs in nonprofit community organizations. While most jobs involve tutoring, available jobs and duties 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
  • Laboratory skills such as preparing/performing laboratory experiments, cleaning equipment, preparing solutions, use of specialized machinery/technology
  • Research skills such as collecting information, using specialized software programs, advanced data entry

Can I begin my job right away?

All FWS students must complete the hiring process before they can begin work. Most students who elect to do FWS can start their jobs during the first three weeks of classes and work until finals week, but this depends on how quickly your hiring paperwork can be completed, and when the hiring department would like for you to start.

Can FWS students receive pay raises?

Students may receive a raise in their rate of pay at the beginning of the fall or spring semester. It is recommended that the raise not exceed $0.25 per hour, but raises are based off of performance. Any raise above $.99 cents will need to be accompanied with detailed justification for the raise based off of job performance.

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 Work Study (SWS). SWS has similar eligibility requirements as FWS. You need to be enrolled as a part-time to full-time student in order to be eligible for your SWS award. The USFAS office will notify you in late spring if you may be eligible for SWS (Summer Work Study). 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 SWS. 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 SWS job for the summer.

What happens when I've earned the total amount of my FWS/SWS award 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/SWS 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). Whether a department has funding outside of your FWS award to continue to pay you depends on the department. If they do have funding for your position outside of FWS then you may continue working.

It is recommended that you work closely with your supervisor to determine how much of your award you have remaining and whether you will be able to continue working if it runs out before the end of the semester.

What if I choose not to take advantage of my FWS award because I've lined up another job that I like?

We recommend that you accept your FWS award regardless of whether you plan to use it.  If you decline the FWS award, you will not receive it again. There is no penalty for accepting the award and not using it, however if you do not use it at all during your first year, you may not receive it again for your second year.

Note that when you report your earnings as part of next year's FAFSA application your previous 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, they have the right to terminate your appointment based off of your work performance. This does not happen very often, but it is something to consider when evaluating which job you would like to apply for. 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. Most students work 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.
  • Unused FWS money cannot be rolled over from the fall semester to the spring semester. Any unused award at the end of the semester is forfeited.
  • If you plan on enrolling in a summer semester, there will be an opportunity to apply for a separate summer SWS award. Begin to look for this opportunity through notification from the USFAS office in the latter part of the spring term. If awarded SWS, keep in mind that this is a separate award from your FWS. Unused FWS award money from fall/spring cannot be carried over to your summer term.
  • In the very rare situations where supervisors feel students have intentionally violated USF rules and policy, the supervisor will refer the matter to the appropriate agencies for investigation and disciplinary action as appropriate. This could include Student Relations, Student Judicial Services, USF Human Resources Office, The Equal Opportunities Office, or the University Police. For questions about cases like these, you may consider reaching out to: Student Rights & Responsibilities 813-974-9443; SOCAT 813-974-6130; USF Ombuds Office 813-974-0835.

I have more questions or need additional help.

For questions related to...

FWS Eligibility or Adjustments
See your Financial Aid Advisor in the USFAS office or call (813) 974-4700.

Finding an FWS Position
Contact our Student Employment team or call Career Services at 813-974-2171.

Resume and Cover Letter
Visit Career Express during the walk-in hours.

Your Position Details
Contact your supervisor for questions about your schedule, pay, time off, and job performance.