Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a program that provides part-time jobs during the academic year and full- or part-time jobs during the summer for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. Jobs may be on or off campus with a public or private nonprofit agency including jobs in the community service areas.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements?

In order for the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to determine if a student is eligible for FWS, they must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form each year. You can complete the application online at https://studentaid.gov/fafsa. Students must demonstrate financial need and those who file their FAFSA early have a better chance of qualifying. FWS is offered on a first-come, first-complete basis to qualified financial aid applicants. The offer will be a part of a student’s financial aid package.

For the summer term, there are two types of FWS options. Full-time FWS is only available if you do not enroll in any summer courses. Students are expected to work full-time and save 100 percent of your earnings (less taxes and transportation expenses) to be used as a resource for the upcoming academic year. Part-time FWS is available if you are enrolled for summer at least half-time. It provides part-time employment for students who must earn a part of their educational expenses for the summer term.

FWS Job Opportunities

If you decide to pursue a FWS position, you are expected to arrange your own job interviews with potential FWS eligible employer(s) and make the decision about where you will work. There are many options for work-study jobs on-campus, as well as off-campus. The following are different options and opportunities to aid in your job search:

Career Services

Career Services uses a job site called Handshake. Handshake provides a listing of available jobs including, but not limited to, FWS positions. Handshake is also the place for UNL students to research companies, look for job and internship opportunities, and learn about on-campus career events. To activate your already created account, go to Handshake, log in with your My.UNL login information and complete your profile.. If you have any questions related to Handshake or your job search, please contact Career Services.

Contact a University Department

If there is a particular department that you are interested in working at on-campus, you can contact the department directly to inquire about possible job opportunities.

Undergraduate Research

The First Year Research Experience (FYRE) will match FWS eligible first year students with a research faculty mentor and project. Students will be employed by the Office of Undergraduate Research and will commit to 5 hours/week on a research or creative project under faculty guidance. Learn more about FYRE and view the available jobs and application form.

America Reads and America Counts Tutoring Program

UNL participates in the America Reads and America Counts program, a national campaign that aims at helping to ensure more children learn to read independently as well as improve on skills in mathematics. Beginning with the 1999-2000 academic year, UNL has partnered with elementary schools in the Lincoln Public School District by providing tutors to assist elementary school children, Kindergarten through 5th grade, in reading and mathematics. The America Reads and America Counts program offers undergraduate students an opportunity to mentor, educate and invest in children within the community through one-on-one and group tutoring. Over 1,700 students at Nebraska have tutored through the America Reads and America Counts tutoring program.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must have Federal Work-Study offered in your financial aid package
  • Enrolled as a degree-seeking student.
  • Enrollment in at least six (6) credits hours of study per semester.
  • Must have a minimum 2.0 GPA (for continuing students).
  • Must commit to at least 6 hours/week of tutoring.
  • Preference is given to individuals who can commit for one academic year.
  • Must have consistent attendance with minimal (pre-approved) absences.
  • Ability to speak, read, and write English fluently.
  • Desire an opportunity to work with children.
  • Experience with children in a tutoring, coaching, mentoring, student-teaching or other position in which the following skills were required:
    • Establishing and maintaining positive interpersonal rapport with individuals.
    • Preparing and executing skills-building academic or recreational activities, or assisting in such activities.
  • Genuine interest in literacy, mathematics literacy as demonstrated by academic major, prior tutoring experience or related jobs, and/or related volunteer activities.
  • Reliable transportation as this is an off-campus job.
  • Proficiency in a second language is also desirable.

How to apply?

The Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid will be in contact with work-study eligible students the summer before the upcoming academic year with more information on applying.

Federal Work-Study Rights and Responsibilities

Your Responsibilities as a Student Employee

Once you have been offered and selected a FWS position, your initial responsibility is to determine a work schedule with your employer. As a FWS student employee, you will be treated as any other University employee. Accordingly, you are expected to abide by the schedule you have set with your employer. Students typically work 10-20 hours per week. University student employment policy limits student employment to not more than 20 hours per week. You should contact the department in advance if you cannot make the scheduled work hours. If this is not done, you could be subject to termination from the FWS program.

The intent of FWS is to provide employment for students to assist them in financing their education. It is not recommended that you study on the job. Departments cannot record hours you have not actually worked. You must record your work hours honestly. Any falsification of the time sheet or time card will mean immediate suspension from the FWS program. No additional financial assistance will be allocated to replace FWS.

Employer Responsibilities

The department must provide a supervisor to monitor your work. The supervisor must be a permanent employee of the University and cannot be another FWS student. Departments should make every effort to schedule your work hours around your class schedule. When this is not possible and you need the hours to earn your award, you have the option of obtaining a second FWS position. You are a student first. Departments should let you alter your work schedule, when possible, provided you contact them in advance. Departments will be keeping records of your FWS earnings and computer payroll reports are sent out to each department every two weeks.

What to Do with Federal Work-Study Employment Problems

If you are experiencing difficulty with your FWS position, you should discuss this problem with your supervisor. If the problem is not solved, you should then discuss it with the department's FWS contact. Talking to these individuals allows the department to change your job assignment within the department to rectify scheduling or work problems. Should the department fail to solve the problem with your FWS employment, you should make an appointment with the Federal Work-Study Assistant Director, in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Nebraska Minimum Wage

Salary for FWS students will be no less than the current minimum wage and will also be associated with the type of work performed and skills required. For information about Student Employee Wages, please refer to UNL Human Resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of Work-Study?
  • Flexible work schedule.
  • Opportunities to work in your area of study.
  • FWS earnings do not count against your aid eligibility when you fill out the next year’s FAFSA.
Since the program is called "Work-Study", can I study while on the job?

No. FWS jobs are paying you to work, not study.

How do students receive Work-Study funds?

Students earn FWS funds through a FWS job and are paid with a bi-weekly paycheck that is direct deposited to their bank account. Students may then choose to use that money to put towards your bill at UNL or other expenses. FWS funds do not disburse to your student billing account like loans, grants and scholarships.

What is the maximum amount that I can earn through Work-Study?

The amount that you are offered as part of your financial aid package is the maximum amount that you can earn through a FWS job. Once you have earned the maximum amount, you are no longer eligible to be paid through the FWS program.

How many hours will I work?

On average, students work 10-20 hours per week for part-time FWS. For summer full-time FWS, students can work up to 40 hours per week.

My class let out early, can I start my shift earlier?

No. Due to federal regulation, students who have a FWS job are not permitted to work during scheduled class time, even if a class lets our early or is cancelled completely.

If offered, is Work-Study mandatory?

You are not required to work a FWS job. However, if you do not utilized your FWS offer, it is less likely that you will be offered FWS the following year. If you decide not to use your FWS offer, you may have the option of converting your FWS to a loan if you have remaining loan eligibility. Please contact the Husker Hub for more information.

Why did my Work-Study amount decrease?

FWS can decrease because financial aid in another area increased, such as an outside scholarship being applied. It may also decrease if you drop to less than half-time enrollment. In order to maintain eligibility for FWS, you must be enrolled at least half time. If you drop to less than half time, you will need to stop working for FWS immediately. It is then up to your employer whether they are able to keep you on as a regular student worker or if you must end your position.