Federal Work Study

Federal Work Study (FWS) is a government program that provides financial assistance to students through part-time employment.

Awards are based solely on financial need as defined by federal law. Students who are accepted into FWS are assigned positions by the executive officer of their academic program.

To be considered for FWS, students must complete the FAFSA by the priority deadline of April 30. Learn more about applying for federal aid.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Register for and maintain an enrollment status of half time (six credits/WIUs). Courses taken as a non-matriculated student and/or audited courses do not count toward your eligibility for federal student aid.
  • Be enrolled in a degree-granting program
  • Be either a citizen or permanent resident of the United States

Students are paid an hourly wage for FWS positions.

The pay rate is $18 per hour for Graduate Center students (effective 7/1/18).

For the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, the pay rate is $15 per hour (effective 7/1/18).

No separate application is required — you will be considered for the program by answering “yes” to question 28 on your FAFSA.

You must accept your Federal Work Study in CUNYFirst. Please consult our guide on how to accept aid in CUNYFirst. 

Once you obtain a Federal Work Study position, you must complete and submit the following to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid:

If you did not receive a Federal Work Study award but would like to be considered for one if funds become available, please complete the Federal Work Study Wish List Form.
If you need a duplicate of your FWS W-2 Form for 2018 and prior calendar years, please complete the Federal Work Study Duplicate W-2 Request Form.

Active FWS Students have access to payroll self-service features, including W-2 Forms, from both Campus Solutions and Human Capital Management in CUNYfirst.

  • Campus Solutions -> Self-Service -> Payroll and Compensation
  • Human Capital Management -> Self-Service -> Payroll and Compensation

Terminated FWS Students only have access to payroll self-service features, including W-2 Forms, from Campus Solutions in CUNYfirst.

  • Campus Solutions -> Self-Service -> Payroll and Compensation

Federal Work Study offers are made each spring for the following academic year.

Because funds are limited, only students who have their FAFSA on file by the priority deadline (April 30) are initially considered for FWS.

On the Federal Work Study Payroll Calendar, you’ll find information about timesheet due dates as well as payment schedules.


If you have never had a job, the FWS program provides valuable exposure to the world of work.

FWS employers are often willing to give on-the-job training, and most FWS placements are directly related to your program of study or career choice. When seeking regular employment after graduation, you can use your FWS position as an employment reference.

At the Graduate Center and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism most of our FWS students are assigned to work within their academic program or area of career choice as long as a placement is available. There are also other on-campus placements that may meet our students' areas of interest.

FWS money is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Graduate Center receives a fixed amount of money each academic year to make FWS awards. Students who do not initially receive a FWS offer may complete the Federal Work-Study Wish List Form to be considered if funds become available at a later date.

Students who have been awarded FWS will see it reflected as part of the financial aid award in CUNYfirst.

We make every effort to assign students to positions within their academic program, subject to the number of vacancies. The Graduate Center may offer a few students an alternative work assignment if their academic program does not have an available position.

The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY students are assigned exclusively to their campus.

Your FWS supervisor is responsible for submitting the biweekly FWS time sheet to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid. Once submitted, the time sheet will be processed and payment will be generated.

You can determine if you prefer a paper paycheck or direct deposit.

Payments are made biweekly as outlined on the FWS Payroll Calendar. If your FWS time sheet is submitted late, then your payment will be made on the next pay date listed on the FWS Payroll Calendar.

Yes. FWS earnings are considered taxable income by federal, state, and local governments. FWS earnings are not, however, included in the calculation of your eligibility for financial aid, provided that your complete FAFSA question 43C.

No. The FWS award represents the maximum amount you may earn for the academic year. How much of the total award is actually received depends upon the total number of hours you are allowed to work each semester. Once the maximum FWS award is earned each semester, you will have to stop working.

If you would like to request additional FWS funds, you may submit the FWS Wish List Form. This form can be submitted after you have earned three-quarters of your FWS award (make sure to check the box below the signature line to make this request). Submit the completed form to the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid for processing.

No. You can only be paid for the hours worked. If you cannot earn the entire FWS award before the end of the academic year, the unearned portion of the award is returned to the program.

Yes. If you withdraw from school for any reason, , take a leave of absence, graduate, or drop below the required minimum of six credits/WIUs per semester, you lose your eligibility for FWS and must stop working immediately.

According to federal law, the identity and eligibility to work in the United States must be verified for all FWS students before beginning a FWS assignment.

You will have to complete an I-9 form and present certain documents to an appropriate FWS representative.

You may not participate in the FWS program until you have filed an I-9 form with the Office of Fellowships and Financial Aid. Other required documents include: the FERPA Confidentiality Agreement, the NYS Wage Rate Pay Day form, and withholding forms for the IRS and NYS. Find these on this page.

No. Students enrolled in a nonprofit or public educational institutions that combine academic instruction with work experience (such as the FWS program) are excluded from the Unemployment Insurance Program.

Yes. Students who are receiving unemployment insurance benefits while employed in the FWS program must notify their local unemployment office that they are working in the FWS program. The New York State Department of Labor considers it willful misrepresentation to collect unemployment benefits without revealing that the student is also receiving FWS wages.