Federal Work-Study Program
What is the Federal Work-Study Program?
The Federal Work-Study Program was established by Congress to assist students in earning money to meet their educational costs while providing experience related to the student's academic major or career interests. Students are allowed to have flexible work schedules, thus allowing their academics to be their first priority.
Federal Work-Study is a subsidized program in which employer wage costs are reduced through government funding. Therefore, the Federal Work-Study Program must adhere to regulations enacted by Congress and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education.
Participation in the Federal Work-Study Program is determined by the student's financial need and is awarded as part of a financial aid package. Students must re-apply for financial aid each year and remain eligible for Federal Work-Study in order to continue working in the program.
Federal Work-Study earnings are not applied directly to the tuition bill but are used at the student's discretion to cover educational costs such as tuition, books, fees, personal items, and transportation. Students normally work approximately 20 hours a week and are usually authorized to earn from $750 to $2,750 per year. An award simply authorizes a maximum earnings limit for the academic year. It is the student's responsibility to work enough hours to reach the earnings limit and to budget the money wisely throughout the year to meet educational expenses.
How do I ensure my continued Federal Work-Study eligibility each year?
Please remember that you must demonstrate financial need in order to participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. The following steps should be taken each academic year:
-Reapply for financial aid each year by the deadline dates.
-Notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes in your family financial circumstances.
-Notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes in your enrollment status.
-Earn no more than the predetermined Federal Work-Study award.
What is an "award"?
The award is the maximum amount that may be earned by the student during the academic year. The employer and student should compute how many hours a student is able to work at his wage rate in order to determine the student's schedule for the year. Any funds not earned at the end of the academic year will be forfeited and do not carry over to the next year. Students are responsible for monitoring their own award to ensure compliance. If the student exceeds the award, 100% will be charged to the department's account. Students should be aware that their award might be decreased during the academic year as a result of the receipt of outside resources (e.g. scholarships). If family circumstances change, increases to the award may be made. Both the student and employer will be notified if an award is adjusted.
When may I begin to work?
Before you may begin to work a work-study job on or off campus, the Financial Aid Office must hire you on the University's WebHire System. The Financial Aid Office will inform you of your begin date after all forms are processed and approved for hire. Usually, a student will be able to begin on a Monday after being approved, and an electronic time sheet is created.
How do I find a job?
Students are encouraged to review open positions that are listed in binders which are available throughout the year in the Financial Aid Office. Also, the links listed below are for the campuses who have Federal Work-Study positions posted on their financial aid website. Once a student has found a job in which they are interested, it is the student's responsibility to contact the employer and arrange an interview.
What should I do once an employer agrees to hire me?
The Financial Aid Office must receive and process all of the following forms from a student before they can begin working:
How do I keep track of the time that I work?
All hours must be recorded on a time sheet. Please see your supervisor for instructions on how to keep track and submit your work hours. The student should fill in the hours worked on the day that the work is performed to the nearest tenth of an hour. (For example, 10 hours and 35 minutes would be recorded as 10.6 hours). All electronic time sheets must be approved by the supervisor in order to be processed. All electronic time sheets must be submitted to your supervisor by 12:00 noon every Friday in order to be paid on a timely basis. If the student works on the weekend, the student must submit the electronic time sheet to the supervisor by 9:00 a.m. on the following Monday.
How do I get paid?
Students are issued paychecks bi-weekly for the previous two weeks of work. Students should be able to obtain their paychecks directly from their supervisor or employer. Please note: You will not receive your first paycheck until one month (two pay periods) after your first day of work. Please see the Hourly Employee Pay Schedule for paydays as well as weeks being paid.
Can my check be deposited into my bank account?
Yes. Students may elect to have their checks deposited into the bank account of their choice. Although a Direct Deposit form is available that can be filled out, printed, and sent to Payroll; the form can also be processed on-line. In order to make direct deposit changes online, see How to Submit or Change your Direct Deposit on-line.
How long does it take to get my direct deposit started?
Usually, the depositing of your check into your bank account occurs the second pay period following completion of the direct deposit form. The reason your check is not deposited during the first payroll is to make sure deposit information is correct. The automatic depositing of your check will then occur on the second payroll following your completing the form. After the first pay day, instead of receiving a check, you will receive a "pay stub" indicating that your pay was deposited to the account you specified.
Will I be taxed on my earnings?
Yes. Income earned through the Federal Work-Study Program is taxable. Therefore, each student must complete state and federal withholding forms and include their earnings on the appropriate tax returns.
May I appeal my award?
Students who believe that their financial circumstances have changed since accepting the original package should contact the Financial Aid Office in order to appeal. Students who request an increase must document additional financial need. Please note that program regulations prohibit the determining of earnings based on an employer's need to retain a worker or a student's desire to work.
May I change jobs?
It is the expectation of the Financial Aid Office and all employers that, once hired, a student will stay in the position for an entire academic year (Fall and Spring semester). If the student is not satisfied with the position, we ask that the student attempt to work out any difficulties with their employer before requesting a transfer to another position. The Financial Aid Office can provide counseling for anyone experiencing difficulties with a job. If the problem cannot be resolved, the student may transfer to another job.
May I have more than one work-study job?
Students are asked to dedicate a minimum of 10 hours of work per week to ensure that they reach their earnings by May. While it is possible to have more that one work-study job, no student may be employed in more than one department at any given time without prior permission from the Financial Aid Office. Permission is granted only if the student cannot reach the award limit through the present job or if the second position has greater relevancy to the student's career interests.
May I work during vacation/breaks?
Students may work during breaks. However, income earned during these vacation periods will count toward the student's Federal Work-Study earnings limit. Students cannot work more than forty hours per week.
Is work available over the summer?
During the summer, some Federal Work-Study positions are available. Students must receive prior approval from the Financial Aid Office and cannot work more than forty hours per week in these summer positions. Wages earned during the summer do not count against the student's academic year Federal Work-Study earnings limit. However, if the student is not enrolled at least half-time (6 or more credit hours) for the summer term, then the student must complete a Summer Non-Enrollment form and the summer Federal Work-Study earnings will be counted as a resource for the following academic year.
How will I be evaluated?
Evaluation forms are sent to the employers in April. At that time, the students and the employer should set aside time for discussion of the student's work performance. Based on this evaluation, a student may receive a merit pay increase.
How do I qualify for a pay increase?
Federal Work-Study employees may obtain pay increases by three means:
-Longevity: All students automatically receive a $.50 hourly pay increase for each year of continuous service with the same employer.
-Merit: At the annual evaluation each spring, students may be awarded an hourly pay increase up to $.25 for meritorious service. This is an optional increase determined by the employer and becomes effective the following fall.
-Reclassification: If a student has gained additional skills and responsibilities after time on the job, the student may be reclassified to a new position. An employer must provide documentation of the increased responsibilities, and the reclassification must be approved by the Financial Aid Office before it becomes effective.
What should I do if I change my address?
All address changes should be made through your campus' Registrar's Office.
Students may also work in community service positions and receive payment through the Federal Work-Study Program. Students who work in Community Service positions will more than likely work at locations other than on a college campus. The rate of pay is higher than Federal Work-Study jobs on campus.
"Community Service" is defined as services designed to improve the quality of life, especially for low-income residents, to include:
-health care, child care, literacy training, education, welfare, social services, transportation, housing, safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, etc.
-work in service opportunities or youth corps
-support services for students with disabilities
-"mentoring" (e.g., tutoring, counseling, supporting educational and recreational activities)
Please note that the Financial Aid Offices on the University of South Carolina Regional Campuses do not research the integrity of each employer located off campus. Therefore, you are urged to undertake this responsibility for yourself. Use caution and common sense when working in any position with an organization to avoid putting yourself in a vulnerable situation.