Work-study is not a grant or a loan but a need-based, part-time employment program in which the government and the employer share the payroll cost of employing you.
Unlike grants, loans, and scholarships, the dollar amount you’re awarded in work-study will NOT apply directly toward tuition nor will it be disbursed to you directly in a lump sum. Instead, you earn the offered amount through working at your Student Job. Federal Work-Study is the portion of your Financial Aid offer set aside for you to earn at a job. Federal Work-Study must be earned at eligible Student Jobs.
Undergraduate, graduate and professional students are eligible and must answer “YES” to the work-study question on the FAFSA to be considered.
UW-Madison FWS Eligible Student Jobs
Any UW-Madison Student Job which pays an hourly wage is automatically eligible to earn your Federal Work-Study offer, even if the job posting makes no mention of work-study. No additional paperwork is required. A UW-Madison Student Job includes any UW-Madison Department.
Local FWS Eligible Student Jobs
Some Local Student Jobs are eligible to earn your Federal Work-Study offer. Eligible Local Student Jobs include non-profit organizations and small businesses within the state of Wisconsin. Additional paperwork will be required if you choose an off-campus position. Please contact the Student Employment team if you have questions or would like to see if a job you’re interested in may qualify as an eligible Federal Work-Study site.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Why is work-study better than any other job?
- Many campus employers, including our office, give preference to students that have work-study when hiring.
- Many campus employers pay more than minimum wage.
- When a you file your FAFSA the following year, your earnings from work-study are deducted from your annual gross income, meaning earning work-study income doesn’t count against your actual earned income, while earnings through any other job might.
WARNING! This does NOT mean you are exempt from filing a federal or state tax return because you have earned work-study – it is still earned income and is treated as such.
How do I find a job?
You are responsible for finding a job. Once you are working, you’ll begin receiving paychecks that will decrease the work-study amount set aside for you. Your hourly wage and number of hours worked each week will be determined by your specific employer.
ANY campus job is automatically eligible for you to earn your federal work-study allotment, even if the job posting makes no mention of work-study. No additional paperwork is required.
Off-campus jobs must be with eligible non-profit organizations or small businesses in the city of Madison. Additional paperwork will be required if you choose an off-campus position; contact the Federal Work-Study Office if you have questions on a particular job.
Visit UW Madison Student Jobs for regularly updated listings, both on- and off-campus.
Can I have more than one work-study job?
Yes, please contact the Federal Work-Study Office for more specifics. But, your awarded amount of work-study will not increase.
How many hours can I work?
Most work-study jobs are flexible on the number of hours per week that you work, but no student employees on campus can exceed 40 hours/week. Check with your potential employer(s) for their specific expectations.
You are not obligated to earn the full amount you were offered in work-study, but once you’ve earned all of your available funds, your employer will be responsible for 100% of your wages.
I've been hired, now what?
On-campus (University) employers will have UW student employment paperwork for you to complete to get started in your position. Each position may require different paperwork, but your employer will provide you with specifics.
For off-campus (non-University) positions, a Federal Work-Study Student and Employer Information Form (SIF) must be completed. The SIF is obtained in the Student Jobs Platform once your off campus employer has sent you an employment offer. If you have questions about this process, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When and where do I get paid?
Pay periods are every 2 weeks. All student employment paychecks (including work-study) come from the University’s Payroll Office. The University strongly recommends participating in direct deposit for your employment paychecks and your employment paperwork will likely include information about registering your bank account. If you do not set-up direct deposit, then your paycheck in the form of a focus card will be mailed to the address on file.
Does accepting work-study allow me to participate in the Wisconsin FoodShare Program?
You must be currently employed and earning work-study, not just have it accepted. To participate, you’ll need to show copies of your two recent pay stubs from your current work-study job to the Wisconsin FoodShare department. Pay stubs can be found and reprinted from a your MyUW portal under Payroll Information. You may also need to provide a copy of your most recent award notice. Find out more information about FoodShare Wisconsin.