JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Work-Study Programs

Federal Work-Study is a need-based financial aid program that allows you to work part-time to help pay for college. A Federal Work-Study job is different from other jobs for the following two reasons: (1) the hours are flexible to ensure that you have enough time to study, and (2) when you apply for financial aid the following year, the money you earned through this program isn't used to determine your financial need.  

To be considered for Federal Work-Study, be sure to indicate that you’re interested in this program on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Funds for this program are limited, so it is important to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible. If you are eligible, your college will list the amount you can earn on your financial aid award letter. If you have been awarded Federal Work-Study, you'll probably receive a packet of information with your award letter, explaining how the program works. Make sure you read all of the information you receive. Each college may have different rules. Here are some important questions to ask:

  • Will I be assigned a Federal Work-Study job, or do I have to find a job on my own?
  • Where can I find a list of Federal Work-Study jobs?
  • When should I start looking for a job?
  • How do I apply for a Federal Work-Study job?
  • How often will I receive a paycheck?
  • If I can't find a job, what should I do?
  • How many hours do I need to work to earn the amount I have been awarded?

Once you find a job, you'll receive a paycheck for the hours you work. If you don't work enough hours, you may not earn all of the funds you have been awarded. The money you earn through the Federal Work-Study program is paid directly to you. It is up to you to use this money wisely.  

In addition to the financial benefits, there are other reasons to consider a Federal Work-Study job. Working on campus allows you to meet other students, network with teachers and administrators, and may even give you the opportunity to gain career experience. If you're going to study biology, you may be able to find a job as a lab assistant. If art is your area of interest, there may be job opportunities in an on-campus gallery or studio. There are even Federal Work-Study jobs in not-for-profit community outreach organizations. Money earned from a Federal Work-Study job will not be counted as income when you complete the next year’s FAFSA. Explore your options and find the job that works best for you. If you decide that you don't want to work while you’re in college, let the financial aid office know that you no longer want to participate in the Federal Work-Study program. Keep in mind, even if you don't accept the Federal Work-Study award, most colleges will not increase your other financial aid awards.

Since eligibility for the Federal Work-Study program is limited, and is based on need, you may not qualify to participate in this program. If you are still interested in working on campus, your college may be able to offer other employment opportunities. Check with the financial aid office to see if non-work-study employment is available. Since non-work-study employment is not a type of financial aid, you may be directed to a different office on-campus, such as Student Employment, or Human Resources. Money earned from a non-work-study job will be counted as income on the next year's FAFSA.

Additional information regarding Federal Work-Study is available online via the U.S. Department of Education's “Do You Need Money for College or Career School? Apply for Federal Student Aid” publication, which may be accessed via the Information on College Preparation and the Federal Student Aid Programs section of the Resources page at Federal Student Aid’s StudentAid.gov. You may also visit the Federal Work-Study section at StudentAid.gov.