Federal Work Study (FWS)

Federal Work Study (FWS) Program

Federal Work Study (FWS) is a federally sponsored program that enables eligible students to earn income through part-time employment with select organizations, including the university, local nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

Eligible students who complete the FAFSA and have demonstrated financial need are awarded FWS as part of their financial aid packages. The maximum award amount for an academic year is $5000. This amount may be smaller depending on financial need. Students tend to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year.


  1. Student must have an SAI of less than your COA (cost of attendance)
  2. Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher (does not apply to incoming freshman)
  3. Must be enrolled at least half-time (6 or more credits)
  4. Must demonstrate financial need and have unmet need (room in budget)
  5. Complete the FWS Interest form

Federal Work Study FAQ

Who is eligible for the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program?

Students, who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents, complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have demonstrated financial need, which is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at Howard University and the Student Aid Index (SAI) as determined by the FAFSA, are eligible.  

How would I know if I have been awarded Federal Work Study?

If you met FWS eligibility requirements, the Financial Aid Office would have included a FWS award in your financial aid package. To start earning FWS funds, you must accept your award via BisonWeb.

How much can I earn?

You’ll earn at least the current federal minimum wage. However, you may earn more depending on the type of work you do and the skills required for the position. 

Your total work-study award depends on 

  • when you apply, 

  • your level of financial need, and 

  • The universities’ funding level. 

Will my FWS award be applied to my tuition?

No - Federal Work Study is an employment program; like other part-time student jobs, you will earn a paycheck every two weeks and may choose how best to spend your money. 

How do I find an FWS job?

Students may be employed by the institution itself; a federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit organization. Institutions must use a percentage of their Work- Study allocation to support students working in community service jobs, including reading tutors for preschool age or elementary school children; mathematics tutors for students enrolled in elementary school through ninth grade; literacy tutors in a family literacy project performing family literacy activities; or emergency preparedness and response. View student job postings and consider opportunities that are on or off campus.  

How will I be paid?

How you’re paid depends partly on whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student. 

  • You will be paid hourly 

  • The university must pay you at least once a month. 

  • The university must pay you directly and will send your payments directly to your bank account 

Can I work as many hours as I want?

No. The amount you earn can’t exceed your total Federal Work-Study award. When assigning work hours, your employer or your school’s financial aid office will consider your class schedule and your academic progress.

Can I claim exempt on my tax forms since I am a student?

You cannot claim exemption from withholding if (1) your income exceeds $950 and includes more than $300 of unearned income (e.g. interest and dividends) and (2) another person can claim you as a dependent on his or her tax return. For more information, review our online guide (PDF) or consult a tax advisor. 

As an international student, am I eligible for student jobs?

At this time, Howard University does not have a work program for international students to be employed on or off campus.