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Work-Study Basics

Introduction - What is Work-Study?

The goal of the Federal Work-Study Program is to promote the part-time employment of students with financial need in institutions of higher education, allowing them to earn money for educational expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to a student’s course of study. Put simply, it is a part-time job opportunity for students with many incentives and benefits.

If you are offered Federal Work-Study (FWS) as part of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) award offers then you are qualified to begin looking for a FWS job. If you initially do not receive FWS as part of your award offers, you can request consideration using our Federal Work-Study Request form. However, the University of Utah cannot guarantee that all students will be eligible or secure a position because FWS funds are limited.

Federal Work-Study is not a scholarship or grant. The amount shown is the maximum you can earn throughout the year while working in a FWS position. To access these funds you must work in a FWS eligible position.

Federal Work-Study is not guaranteed employment. Students still must go through the department/agency’s hiring and application process.

Benefits of Federal Work-Study

  • A variety of positions become available due to the funding backed by the Department of Education and University of Utah, opening many opportunities related to a particular field of study
  • The FWS employer understands that you are a college student first and your work schedule cannot interfere with your class schedule, but keep in mind you are still an employee with job responsibilities
  • There are opportunities to work in areas specifically related to your course of study and serve the community
  • FWS jobs are specific to FWS students only. Not allowing outside hires provides increased opportunities to be employed in your field(it is not guaranteed)
  • Income earned under the FWS program does not negatively impact your future financial aid eligibility whereas other employment earnings can impact your eligibility for subsequent academic years
  • Your FWS employment helps build your skills and future career, as well as provide a head start on acquiring a job related to your field
  • The majority of jobs are found on-campus. However, University approved off-campus jobs are also available
  • FWS wages earned are not applied toward tuition, fees or other charges due
  • FWS is a great way to start building your resume while in school, earn money, make connections in your field and help manage student finances during college

Student Responsibilities

When accepting the Federal Work-Study offer, students agree to the following:

  • FWS jobs are not guaranteed; students must apply and secure a FWS eligible position through the University of Utah’s employment webpage
  • A student must maintain eligibility throughout their FWS position
  • Alert the financial aid office of anything that may affect the eligibility criteria, such as receiving a new scholarship, grant, or other type of financial assistance
  • Keep track of your earnings and make sure you do not exceed your FWS limit
  • Maintain satisfactory work performance
  • Students are not allowed to work during class time. However, if a class period is canceled,  you may provide proof to the department and report to work during that class time after it is reviewed and approved
  • Students generally should not work more than 20 hours a week (except under special circumstances)
  • Students cannot work outside the dates of eligibility. Dates of eligibility are available on our website and should be checked every academic year


  • Demonstrate financial need from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Must be working towards an eligible degree program
  • Must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) towards declared program
  • Not be in default of any federal student loan or owe repayment of a federal grant.
  • Be registered with Selective Service if required
  • Be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Have a valid Social Security number


Beginning the Process

Once you have completed the FAFSA and accepted your FWS offer in CIS, you can begin your FWS job search. Here is a quick overview of how the process will go:

  1. Obtain FWS (if you completed the FAFSA and FWS was not a part of your offer, you can request consideration on our website)
  2. Apply for a FWS position
  3. After being hired, have your employer obtain a Employee Authorization Form (EAF) from our office.
  4. Begin working, following FWS and University of Utah employment policies and regulations
  5. Report to the FWS coordinator after your first paycheck to verify FWS status
  6. Check UMail for all FWS notifications and monitor financial aid status regularly

Finding a Job

Federal Work-Study jobs through the University of Utah can be found here.

Students have a limited time in which to find a job. A position must be secured with a Job Referral Notice (EAF) by the following times:

  • Fall(through Spring): September 30th
  • Spring: February 15th
  • Summer: May 31st

Exception: Students will be allowed 45 days from the FWS offer date to obtain a EAF.

After finding a job, your employer must contact the Federal Work-Study coordinator to verify your eligibility, FWS amount, and authorized period. After this contact, the FWS coordinator will issue a EAF to your employer and a copy to you. It is important to keep a copy of the EAF for your records.

Employment Authorization Form (EAF)

Students may not begin working in the FWS program until a EAF has been issued to their employer. The EAF is the official confirmation of a student’s eligibility to work in the FWS program. You will be notified once the EAF is issued to your employer. The EAF is authorized and valid for the specific criteria:

  • Student Name and ID
  • Amount of FWS
  • Authorized Period
  • Supervising Department
  • Payroll Department

Verify your Work-Study Status

Students must contact the FWS coordinator after the first paycheck to verify the EAF has been activated.

It is extremely important that students contact the FWS coordinator to avoid the EAF becoming invalid. Your EAF will activate when your wages charge the FWS accounts for work performed. Failure to verify your status as a FWS employee may result in the loss of your FWS.

The EAF will become inactive once you stop earning FWS wages for a period of four consecutive pay periods. If the EAF is not activated, it will become invalid and a new one must be requested.

Follow the Work-Study Employment Policies and Regulations

Student employees are representatives of the University of Utah and should conduct themselves as such. Student employees are expected to perform all responsibilities associated with their job to the best of their ability. Following these policies includes:

  • Adhering to established schedule
  • Arriving to work on time
  • Contacting supervisor if running late or unable to work
  • Maintaining professionalism in the workplace
  • A neat appearance and appropriate work attire
  • Following guidelines and rules set in place by the employer


Last Updated: 6/6/22