Advantages of Federal Work Study
The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is a part-time employment program designed to help you meet your cost of attendance. With FWS you—
New job opportunities are posted throughout the academic year.
- keep your educational loan borrowing to a minimum,
- gain valuable work experience and skills, often in your field of study,
- have a flexible work schedule, and
- receive financial aid in the form of earnings each month.
If you have been awarded FWS, there will be instructions for you when you login to your AidLink account. It is your responsibility to schedule interviews to obtain a position. Select the Work Study Program within the Award Notification screen to view a list of available jobs.
Terms of FWS Employment
The amount you have the opportunity to earn is based on your award and your employer's FWS allocation. Actual earnings are based on the number of hours you work.
- You may work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session.
- You may work up to 40 hours per week during vacation periods (winter and spring breaks) and during final exam week.
- You are responsible for monitoring your earnings so that you do not earn more than your FWS award for the certification period.
- Hourly rates, which comply with federal and state minimum wage laws, vary depending on the type of work and your skills and experience.
The Certification Period
When You Can Use Work Study
You can be awarded FWS for the academic year and/or summer.
Keep track of your Earnings Limit and the hours you work.
Unearned Fall Amounts
Use unearned amounts in the spring — you cannot carry them over to the summer period.
The Certification Period is the time during which you may work and receive FWS funds.
There are 2 certification periods, the academic year (fall and spring) and summer.
The academic year certification period
- when the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships notifies the Division Coordinator that you are certified to work, and
- when your supervisor contacts you to begin work.
- when you reach your Earnings Limit,
- when your supervisor has used up the department's work study allocation, or
- if you have a financial aid hold (check AidLink)
- on the last day of classes if you are graduating, or
- on the last day of the payment period if you will be continuing the following academic year.
If you are graduating, you must stop working on the last day of classes for the semester.
The summer certification period
The summer period begins June 1 and ends August 31.
To participate in summer FWS, you must either be attending SDSU currently and/or will be enrolled in classes at SDSU the following academic year.
A supplemental application is required for summer and will be available online in PDF Forms in May.
You do NOT need to attend school during the summer to use your work study award.
Important: If you are NOT enrolled in summer session, your summer earnings will affect the amount of financial aid you may be eligible for the following academic year.
Unused FWS earnings
- Unused fall semester amounts can be earned during the spring semester.
- Unused academic year amounts cannot be earned during the summer.
- Any unearned summer amount cannot carry over to the next academic year.
Adding or Declining a Federal Work Study Award
Contact a financial aid counselor to find out—
- if you are eligible for a Federal Work Study award, even though it was not awarded to you initially, or
- how you may decline all or a part of your Federal Work Study award.
Tax Regulations Regarding FWS
All FWS earnings are taxable income and must be reported to the IRS, if you are required to file a tax return.
The State of California sends every FWS employee a W-2 Form in January showing total earnings for the previous year.
Contact the SDSU Center for Human Resources if have questions about your W-2 Form.
Reporting FWS Earnings on Your FAFSA
Information about your earnings and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for the prior tax year are collected from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and are used to determine your eligibility for financial aid.
A separate FAFSA question will ask what amount of your earnings and AGI is from FWS.