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Federal Work-Study Frequently Asked Questions


    Institutional Employment Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program?

    The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) is aid that may be offered to students who have a demonstrated need as determined by the FAFSA, and who answered “yes” to the Work-Study question on the FAFSA. Work-Study gives you the potential to work and earn money for living expenses while attending college. Work-Study students are paid twice a month via the Payroll system. You can only receive payment for the hours you have worked. Work-Study wages earned will not be credited to a student’s account for the purpose of payment for tuition and room/board. There is no part of this program that allows for students to study during their work hours as a FWS student employee.

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    What does $2030 for my FWS award mean?

    An FWS award of $2030 means that this is the maximum a student can earn as part of their FWS position during the year. Depending upon eligibility and agreement from the supervisor of the FWS employee, it is possible to increase this award amount by contacting the Student Employment Office. Because of the amount of this award, a typical pay rate may be $7.25 ($7.25/hour x 10 hours/week x 28 weeks/year = $2030).

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    Can I receive FWS if it was not intially offered as part of my financial aid award package?

    If this is of interest to you, please contact the Student Employment office at studentjobs@jmu.edu to speak with a representative who can review and evaluate your award package for the possibility of adding FWS depending upon your eligibility.

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    Will I be expected to repay my Work-Study award to the Federal Government?

    No. The only type of financial aid that has to be repaid is loans.

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    How is Federal Work-Study (FWS) different from regular insitutional employment(IE)?

    FWS has an award of $2030 which means that this is the maximum students can earn in a FWS position during the academic year; whereas, an IE position does not have a maximum. In an IE position, a student can earn what he/she earns without exceeding 20 hours per week. Another difference is that the amount of money you earn in a Work-Study job this year does not count as income when you file your FAFSA next year. You must file these earnings on your FAFSA in order to receive this benefit. This can help to lower your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) next year, and potentially make you eligible for additional grant funds that you may not have received if you worked in a non-Work-Study job (IE) this year.

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    How are Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Institutional Employment(IE) on-campus positions similar?

    Both are part-time positions which average approximately 10 hours per week. Because of the nature of on campus employment overall, supervisors will work with students each semester as their course schedule is adjusted to assist with accommodating the needs of the student while adhering to meeting their own needs as well. Working in a FWS or IE position will also typically provide more flexibility with scheduling (including exam and break periods) than an off campus position. If there are both FWS and IE student employees in the same area performing the same functions, then the pay rates should also remain equitable amongst all of those employees. Students can find similar positions, regardless of their designation as FWS or IE. The same expectations, tasks, responsibilities, qualifications, knowledge, skills and abilities can be found in all student positions regardless of their designation as either FWS or IE as well.

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    Do I have to work, or will I simply receive a check for my Work-Study award?

    Work-Study resources must be earned; you will not automatically receive a check for the award.

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    If I am offered Federal Work-Study (FWS), how do I find out about available job opportunities?

    If you are offered FWS, then you are eligible to apply for a Federal Work-Study funded job. It is not a guarantee of employment. For a listing of job opportunities, please visit JMU JobLink at http://joblink.jmu.edu and search for student positions that are advertised. For a guide on how to navigate this system in search of on campus student positions, refer to our Job Search Instructions handout. If there are any areas on campus that are of particular interest to you, but you do not see any advertised positions for those areas, you may want to contact them directly to inquire about their hiring status for student positions because on campus employers are not required to use the online system to advertise their student jobs.

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    If I am offered Federal Work-Study (FWS), do I have to get a work study job?

    FWS eligible students are NOT restricted to FWS jobs. Being eligible for FWS means that you have a larger pool of jobs to which you can apply. The student employment website offers information on current openings for Institutional Employment (on-campus, non-FWS employment), Federal Work Study (on- or off-campus FWS employment) and jobs posted through our Job Location and Development Program (off-campus, non-FWS employment). To increase chances of employment, FWS-eligible students should apply for every job they are interested in, regardless of employment types (FWS, IE or JOff Campus Part-time). For more information on current employment options, visit: http://www.jmu.edu/stuemploy/JLD/JobAnnouncements.shtml.

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    If I decline the Federal Work-Study (FWS) offer or don't get a FWS job, can my grants or loans be increased?

    If a dependent student declines FWS, parents may request an increase in their Parent PLUS loan. Typically, independent students will see no change in financial aid eligibility, but may contact a financial aid counselor for a revised eligibility assessment.

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    I need to show proof of Federal Work-Study eligibility with my application- where do I get that?

    Verification of FWS eligibility must be provided with your application for a FWS job. You can log on to your MyMadison and under Finances click 'View My Financial Aid'. Click on the current Aid Year. Copy and paste your award information into a Word document, and save. This document can be sent electronically along with your application when applying for FWS jobs. As soon as you have verification of your FWS eligibility, you can begin applying for FWS positions.

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    I was eligible for Federal Work-Study (FWS) last year, why am I not this year? What can I do? Why am I not eligible?

    Eligibility for all Title IV programs can change from year to year, thus creating the requirement to file a FAFSA each year. Eligibility/non-eligibility can be the result of a change in any number of variables: number of household members in college, parents’/students’ income, untaxed income, assets, etc. In some cases, the change in eligibility may take place with the actual financial aid award. For example, the availability of other need based aid increases, such as the subsidized Direct loan amount and once this increase takes place; there isn’t enough “need” in the award package for other need based aid such as FWS. In these cases, students may contact the Student Employment office to inquire about the possibility of reducing the subsidized Direct loan amount and replacing it with FWS in order to maintain a student position. Many departments that hire FWS students also hire Institutional Employment (IE) students. If a student loses their FWS eligibility in a subsequent year, student may want to contact their hiring department about the possibility of employing them as an IE student employee.

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    Where do I send my application?

    When applying for jobs posted through JobLink at http://joblink.jmu.edu, you will create an electronic student application that will be stored in this system. Instructions are given on how to attach your application to a specified job posting along with any other supporting documentation, such as a resume, cover letter, references, etc. that may be requested by a hiring department. Hiring supervisors view applications electronically and typically, will only contact those students who will be invited in to interview.

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    What's minimum wage?

    Effective July 24, 2009, the minimum wage for the state of Virginia will be $7.25, which is also the federal minimum wage.

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    Can I have two on campus jobs? How many hours can I work?

    A student can have several on campus jobs, but between all of these positions, the student cannot exceed 20 hours per week. This policy is in place to reinforce “academics first” for student employees. For international students, it is a federal regulation and violation of exceeding 20-hour maximum could result in deportation. Students typically will not have two FWS positions because their award of $2030 doesn’t provide enough funding; however, students often will have a FWS position and an IE position concurrently.

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Please do not hesitate to contact the Student Employment office at studentjobs@jmu.edu if we can provide additional assistance and/or answer any questions you may have regarding Federal Work Study. This program is in place so that students may supplement their financial needs as they pursue their educational goals while at the same time gain valuable skills and knowledge through the relationships created as part of their work experiences.