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Federal Work Study: Student Employment

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Federal Work Study (FWS) is federal program which provides the main part of the salary for certain employment opportunities on or off-campus. These FWS positions may include positions with various departments and colleges or off-campus employment with approved employers and non-profit organizations. The FWS aid is awarded to students, based on their eligibility and financial need and will provide a salary to pay for tuition and other expenses through college. It is not a grant as you have to work for it, and it is not a loan as you do not have to pay it back. FWS positions are based on the academic year and are therefore restricted to fall semester (September through December) and spring semester (January through mid-May). No positions are available over the holidays or the summer. Eligible students must be enrolled at least half-time per semester (6 credits undergraduate, 5 credits graduate) to work in an FWS position. Students enrolled less than half-time or not enrolled may not work an an FWS position.

There are many good reason to work part time through college, such as minimizing your amount borrowed and paying for expenses and just as importantly, gaining skills and experience. Befefits for this may include:

  1. Students gain better organizational and time management skills.
  2. Employment provides the opportunity to develop mentoring relationships networking opportunities in your field.
  3. Working provides interaction with ‘the real world'.
  4. Working helps to build the foundation for a solid resume.
  5. Current studies suggest that working more than 10-12 hours a week may adversely affect grades.

Answering “Yes” to the FAFSA question will automatically put you on the award list for Federal Work Study, should you be eligible. Answering “Don’t Know” as a freshmen will allow you to be considered. If you answered “No” and later change your decision, you will have to contact the University Scholarships and Financial Aid Office to inquire about the possibility to be added to the wait list for any available funds based on your eligibility. Eligible students will see a Federal Work Study award as part of their financial aid package in HokieSPA.

Searching for a Federal Work Study Job
Students use the job search tool Handshake to search and apply for FWS positions. Log into Handshake.

July 1st is the deadline to accept your Federal Work-Study award. If you are in the process of securing a position or are still searching for a position for the 2021-2022 academic year, please log into your HokieSpa account and accept your award. Federal Work-Study awards will be cancelled for students who have not accepted their award by this date.

If you are still searching for a job, we encourage you to review the current available positions listed on Handshake. Departments add new positions frequently, so check back often.

Federal Work Study students are never considered “salary” but always hourly student wage.  Graduate students may get graduate stipends but cannot use their Federal Work Study Award towards departmental stipends.

Federal Work Study students are paid twice a month. Checks are directly deposited in the banking account set up by student on HokieSPA.

Federal Work Study students cannot direct the university to apply earnings towards education-related charges such as tuition, fees, room and board. Students will receive the paycheck for work performed, and may choose to use the funds to pay education-related expenses, or use the money as they see fit.

Besides on-campus job opportunities, there are exciting opportunities for work-study jobs in two off-campus programs. The Virginia Tech Community Literacy Corps offers tutoring positions in the public and private schools in the local area. There are numerous non-profit agencies that hire federal work study students in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia. If you are interested in working off-campus, please email us at and include 'off-campus FWS opportunities' in the subject line.