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Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study for Students and Employers

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.

What is Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is offered to students based on their eligibility and financial need. The program provides an award that is paid via an hourly wage for expenses throughout college. It is not a grant as you have to work for it, and it is not a loan that must be repaid. FWS positions are based on the academic year and are therefore restricted to the Fall (August-December) and Spring (January-May) semesters. No positions are available over the holidays or during 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 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. Benefits 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.

Eligibility for Federal Work-Study (FWS) is determined by the FAFSA. Students that answer “Yes” to the FAFSA question will automatically be reviewed for eligibility. Students that answer “Don’t Know” as a freshman also will be considered. Students that answer “No” and later wish to change their decision must contact the University Scholarships and Financial Aid Office to inquire about the possibility to be added to the FWS waitlist. 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 must use the job search tool Handshake to search and apply for FWS positions. Log into Handshake here .

September 1st is the deadline to accept the Federal Work-Study award. If you are in the process of securing a position or are still searching for a position for the 2023-2024 academic year, please log into HokieSPA and accept the award. Federal Work-Study awards will be canceled for students who have not accepted their award by this date.

Departments add new positions to Handshake frequently so students still searching for employment opportunies must check the listings often.

Students are never considered salary-based employees. Students in FWS-eligible positions are paid an hourly wage.  Graduate students may receive graduate stipends however, Federal Work-Study Awards may not be applied to departmental stipends.

Student employees are paid twice a month and paychecks are deposited directly into the banking account listed in Hokie Wallet through HokieSPA.

Student employees 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 funds 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.

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