Federal Work Study (FWS) Program

What is the FWS Program?

How Can I Get a FWS Position?

I Was Offered A FWS Position! What Now?

When Can I Start Working

I'm Under 18


What is the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program

The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is a federally-funded work program that allows GW students who have received a Federal Work Study award from the Office of Student Financial Assistance to earn money through a part-time job during the academic year. If you have been offered and accepted FWS funding as part of your financial aid package, you are eligible to hold a FWS position. Participation is optional; in other words, just because you accepted a FWS award as part of your financial aid package does not mean you are under any obligation to work in a FWS position. However, you will only earn whatever portion of your FWS award money that you work to earn in a FWS position.

Undergraduate students are automatically considered for Federal Work Study by the Office of Student Financial Assistance based on their eligibility for need-based financial assistance from the university. Graduate students who wish to receive a Federal Work Study award must apply for it directly through the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Students with questions about the status or details of their FWS award should contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

How Can I Get a FWS Position?

Like all student positions, FWS positions are most easily found through Handshake.Try using search filters to look for the job type "on-campus student employment" and “work study.” It will be noted in the title of a job whether it is FWS or not. Keep in mind, having a FWS award does not limit you to working in only FWS positions - you are welcome to apply for Non-FWS positions as well.

Most employers search for students to fill positions close to the beginning of the Fall semester each year, but there are opportunities posted throughout the year as the need arises. Keep in mind that as the school year progresses, it becomes more difficult to find a position.

If you are interested in working for a specific department or organization, you may consider reaching out to that department with a well-worded, polite email expressing your interest and inquiring whether any FWS positions may become available soon. Another great way to find out about FWS positions is through your network. Talk to friends and classmates to ask whether they have a FWS position in an office that might be looking to hire more students.

Students are strongly encouraged to stop by the Center for Career Services or make an appointment with a Career Coach through Handshake for help with resumes, cover letters, and interview preparation to make sure you're putting your best foot forward on each application. The Center for Career Services also has a service called VMock that automatically checks your resume for simple things like formatting. It is a very useful tool that you can use to get immediate feedback on your resume. Making sure you are prepared for the application process will increase your chances of success in finding a position.

I Was Offered A FWS Position! What Now?

Once an employer has offered you a FWS position, there are still a number of things that have to be done before you may start working:

  • The employer who wishes to hire you must give you an offer letter with your new position and wage information. Sign the offer letter using your physical signature or an official Adobe E-Signature (typed cursive fonts are not acceptable) and return it to them.
  • You will also need to give your employer a signed copy of your FWS Program Student Statement (FWS PSS). For more information about the FWS PSS and how to print the document, please refer to the document "About Your FWS Program Student Statement."
  • Once you have returned the signed offer letter and the FWS PSS to your employer, they will submit a hire request online to Student Employment
  • You will receive instructions via email from Student Employment about what is required from you during the hiring process. This may include a background check, an I-9 form, and/or updated tax forms.
    • All new student employees will be required to complete section 1 and 2 of the federal Form I-9. This will require for you to show, in person, required documentation. Per federal requirements, we must see original (not scanned or copied) documents when you complete the form in our office.

STUDENTS UNDER 18 will need a DC Work Permit before beginning work. Instructions and the work permit application form can be found here.

BEFORE YOU START WORKING you must receive notice from Student Employment that you have been completely hired and are allowed to start working. Even if you have completed all necessary paperwork, you are not yet cleared to begin unless you have been specifically notified by us. This notification will come to your GW email account and will contain the words "OFFICIAL NOTICE" in the subject line, and instructions on how to record your hours in the body. If you started working before you have received that notice - STOP! Please get in touch with our office so that we can help you and your supervisor complete the necessary paperwork before you continue working.


Can a student have multiple FWS jobs?

No, students are not permitted to have more than one FWS job at any given time.  They may have one FWS job plus any number of additional jobs that are not associated with GW’s FWS program.

Can I work my FWS job over the summer?

The FWS program begins on the first day of class and ends in May each year, near the conclusion of the spring semester. GW does not have a summer FWS program.

Can FWS students get additional FWS funds when the initial amount has been used up?

For this question you need to contact the GW Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), but award increases are rare.  You must schedule your hours carefully and monitor the FWS earnings to avoid using up the FWS funds too quickly.

Can a student start orientation and/or training before the completion of the hiring process?

No.  In order to pay a student for any job responsibilities (including orientation/training), the student must first be hired – and this cannot be done until the I-9 has been completed.  Once we have fully processed a student’s hire, both you and the student will receive email notification that the student can legally begin working.

What happens if I do not earn all of my FWS award?

Award amounts that are not earned will not be given to the student, they are reallocated to the GW FWS funds. However, not earning your full award amount will not effect your award amount for the following year. 

It looks like my award is split into two semesters, am I limited to a certain amount of earnings each semester?

Your total available funds are calculated by adding your Fall and Spring award amounts.  This total is available to use at any time during the FWS program and is not limited by semester. Think of it as your earning potential: by working in your FWS position over the course of the year, you are allowed to earn up to the amount offered in your FWS award.