The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is a part-time employment program designed to help you meet your cost of attendance. With FWS you:

  • Keep your educational loan borrowing to a minimum
  • Gain valuable work experience and skills (sometimes in your field of study)
  • Have a flexible work schedule
  • Receive financial aid in the form of earnings each month (FWS pay rates must comply with federal and state minimum wage laws; however depending on the job duties and your experience, your hourly wage could be higher).
  • Check the financial aid tile in my.SDSU to see if you are eligible for FWS.  If it is not included in your financial aid package we can check your eligibility.  Visit us at the Cal Coast Student Financial Center to connect with a counselor.

How does Federal Work Study work?

Students that complete a FAFSA are automatically evaluated for FWS, some students are awarded and others can request FWS.  Students look for job opportunities on the Career Services Handshake app.  Once hired, a weekly work schedule is agreed upon with the employer. Students can work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week.  Monthly, the student submits the hours worked to the SDSU Center for Human Resources (CHR) through an assigned account in PeopleSoft.  Students will be paid by a paycheck or direct deposit.  The money earned is income for the student to use to pay for expenses, as needed.  The student can work in the position for the academic year (fall and spring semesters) and/or for the summer term, based on eligibility.  

Pay rates comply with federal and state minimum wage laws. Earnings are taxable and must be reported to the IRS. 

Federal Work Study (FWS) Handbook for Students

Federal Work-Study jobs are posted on Handshake. Students can create and login to a Handshake account at by using their SDSUid login credentials and search for on-campus jobs. Narrow the search to "Federal Work-Study" or FWS.

Search often - jobs are posted throughout the year. It is up to the student to apply and schedule interviews to obtain a position.

Other websites to search for FWS opportunities:

Non-FWS campus jobs:

There are two main certification timeframes. At the beginning of each term is when most job opportunities are available, however students can apply for FWS jobs at any time during the year.

Certification timeframes:
Academic year: August 1 through May 31 (dates may vary each academic year)
Summer: June 1 through July 31

You’ve been hired, when can you start working?

  • When the Center for Human Resources notifies the Division Coordinator that you are certified to work, and
  • When your supervisor contacts you to begin work.

You must stop working when:

  • When you reach your Earnings Limit, check your financial aid award.
  • When your supervisor has used up the department's FWS allocation.
  • If you have a financial aid checklist (check the Financial Aid tile in my.SDSU).
  • If you are graduating, you must stop working on the last day of classes for the semester.
  • If you are not graduating, you must stop working on the last day of the last pay period for the semester. Check the payroll calendar for the last day of the pay period.
  1. Check if you have FWS included in your financial aid package, if not, ask if you qualify by contacting us at the Cal Coast Student Financial Center.
    In the summer, you must find a FWS job first, once the Financial Aid Office receives the hiring documents from the employing department the FWS eligibility will be reviewed and determined. We cannot determine a summer FWS award before being hired.
  2. Find job opportunities from the Handshake app which can be accessed from the Career Services webpage, or contact a department you are interested in working with and ask if they are hiring FWS students.
  3. Apply for jobs on Handshake and the employer will contact you if they would like to schedule an interview.
  4. If you are hired, your employer will complete the summer Student Employment Authorization (SEA) form for you.
  5. The Center for Human Resources (CHR) will send you an email with instructions on submitting necessary identification documents. Their office is located in the Extended Studies Center, 4th floor. Watch for the email which will detail the documentation you will need to submit to verify your eligibility to work.
  6. Once all steps are completed, the Center for Human Resources will notify your employer, via email, when you can begin working.
Note: You may not begin working until the Center for Human Resources has notified your Division Coordinator.

Federal Work Study Award - The amount a student can earn is based on FWS eligibility and the employer's FWS allocation. Sometimes students can qualify for increases and other times FWS awards can be decreased if there are other adjustments to the financial aid award. If the award is decreased the student and the employer will be notified.

Hours worked - Earnings are based on the number of hours you work in a month. You may work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session. You may work up to 40 hours per week during vacation periods (winter and spring breaks and summer) and during final exam week.

Hourly rates - Rates vary depending on the type of work and your skills and experience. FWS pay rates must comply with federal and state minimum wage laws.

Monitor earnings - Very important: You are responsible for monitoring your hours and earnings so that you do not earn more than your FWS award for the certification period. If you are nearing your FWS limit and need to keep working, first make sure that is permissible by your employer and then contact our office to request an increase and we can check your eligibility.

Paychecks - Paychecks are mailed or sent to students by Direct Deposit. Students sign up for payroll Direct Deposit through the Center for Human Resources at the time of being hired. This is not the same Direct Deposit process as the procedure used for financial aid disbursements.

Unused Federal Work Study Awards

  • Unused fall semester amounts can be earned during the spring semester.
  • Spring awards cannot be earned in fall.
  • Unused academic year amounts cannot be earned during the summer.
  • Any unearned summer amount cannot carry over to the next academic year.
All FWS earnings are taxable income and must be reported to the (IRS), if you are required to file a tax return. The State of California mails every FWS employee a W-2 Form in January showing total earnings for the previous year to be used for tax purposes.

Contact the SDSU Center for Human Resources if you have questions about your W-2 Form and check with a tax advisor for questions on filing taxes.
If you are working in a FWS job during the fall and/or spring semesters and want to continue working in the summer there is an end date for your fall/spring job, usually the last day of the last pay period for the spring semester, and your employer will need to rehire you for summer. To continue from summer into the following fall semester, the department will need to rehire you again.

To participate in summer FWS, students must currently be attending SDSU. Newly admitted students, whether they are freshmen, transfer students, or graduate students, etc. are not eligible to work in the summer term before the fall term they are admitted.

Students do not need to attend summer session classes to participate in summer FWS. However, if a student is NOT enrolled in SDSU summer session, a portion of the summer earnings will be added to the fall semester financial aid award and may affect the amount of financial aid the student is eligible for in fall.

Initial eligibility for summer FWS

  1. Must be a continuing SDSU student.
  2. Have already filed the FAFSA for both the previous year and the upcoming year.
  3. Maintain satisfactory academic progress at the end of the spring semester. Students will
    be notified in my.SDSU if they are not making satisfactory progress.
  4. Must find a summer FWS job first and the employer will submit needed information to the
    Financial Aid Office.
  5. Must have unmet financial need.

Once the employer submits the hiring document the Financial Aid Office will review the final eligibility.

The summer period begins June 1 and ends July 31. The employer will complete a summer Student Employment Authorization (SEA) which will route to the Center for Human Resources, the Financial Aid Office and lastly the Center for Human Resources will notify the employer when the student can begin working.

Download the FWS Student Handbook