UMass Boston

Federal Work Study

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program is a federally subsidized, need based, financial aid program. As such, a student's eligibility for this program is determined through Financial Aid Services. Unlike other financial aid programs that are credited directly to a student's account, FWS eligibility must be earned through a bi-weekly paycheck. The FWS award listed on your award letter is the maximum you may earn through the program for the academic year (July 1 to June 30). However, unless you actually work the hours necessary to earn the award, you will not receive the maximum eligibility. Academic year dates may differ for graduating students and mid-year transfers.

Unlike the Institutional (CC) Student Employment Program, the FWS Program is funded through multiple sources. While you will see no difference in your paycheck, the department is only charged for 25% of your wages. The other 75% is paid through a federal grant. This requires SES to monitor FWS paperwork very carefully. It also limits off-campus employment through the FWS Program to approved, local, nonprofit sites that are able to provide 25% of the student's FWS eligibility.

While FWS earnings are taxable income as reported on the federal and state tax returns, FWS earnings are not considered income when calculating your eligibility for financial aid. This allows you to earn money without impacting your eligibility for need-based financial aid resources.


  • Students may hold only one FWS position at any time. (Multiple Institutional (CC) positions are allowed, as is holding an Institutional (CC) position in addition to your FWS position.)
  • Federal regulations require that all earnings through the FWS Program be spent solely on educational expenses.
  • Students eligible for the FWS Program must appear on the FWS payroll by the end of the second week in October (or by the end of the first week in March if your award is for Spring only). Failure to complete your paperwork in time to meet this deadline will result in cancellation of your award.
  • Work-Study employment will end once the student fully earns the awarded amount within the academic year.  Unearned work-study fund does not transfer to the following academic year. Students must apply for FAFSA each academic year to determine eligibility.
  • All jobs through the FWS Program:
  1. must be governed by employment conditions, including pay, that are reasonable according to the type of work performed, the geographic region, the employee's proficiency, and any applicable federal, state, or local law; and
  2. must not displace employees or impair existing service contracts (replacement is interpreted as displacement); and
  3. must not involve constructing, operating, or maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or sectarian instruction; and
  4. must not solicit, accept, or permit soliciting any fee, commission, contribution, or gift as a condition of the student's FWS employment (union dues excluded if paid by all employees).
  • Financial Aid Services awards FWS funding only to those students who apply on time and demonstrate financial need. Eligibility for those students who are awarded cannot be released until all verification required by Financial Aid Services is submitted and reviewed. Furthermore, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degree, as defined by Financial Aid Services, in order to work through the FWS Program.
  • Additional restrictions apply to off-campus FWS opportunities.

Making an Informed Choice

While the FWS Program offers an excellent opportunity for many students, it may not be the best option for everyone. If you already have a job that pays well or offers good experience in your field of study, you may prefer to decline your FWS award. If you choose not to take advantage of your FWS award, you should notify Financial Aid Services as soon as possible.