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Exterior of the Lacy School of Business Building
Career and Professional Success

Federal Work Study

What Is Federal Work Study (FWS)?

The FWS program subsidizes the paychecks of college students who work qualifying part time jobs (on or off campus), allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.

Students who have been awarded FWS as a part of their financial aid package must secure employment on campus or through our approved Community Service partnership organizations. FWS positions are available on campus in a number of university departments and off campus at approved non-profit and government agencies. The dollars that are awarded to you must be acquired by working in an approved campus job—the only jobs on campus that do not fall under this category are those that are with outside companies such as Aramark, Follett, Starbucks, Scotty's Dawghouse, etc. 

Here are some resources for FWS student employees:

Among the many benefits of being a FWS student, students will also:

  • Flexible work schedules
  • Valuable work experience 
  • Less reliance on student loan borrowing 
  • Apply academic learning to real-world problems
  • Explore and develop their interest in public and community service
  • FWS employment is positively linked to academic achievement and graduation
  • Explore potential career paths and develop career-supporting references

What Does The FWS Aid Amount Mean?

  • Although your aid award may list a certain amount allocated for work-study — say, $1,500 — that doesn’t mean you automatically get that money.
  • You have to find a work-study-eligible job and then work enough hours to earn up to that amount. The monetary award is simply a place holder in your financial aid record.

Does The Money I Earn Go Directly Towards My Tuition?

  • The student receives a paycheck with normal withholding - the money is not automatically applied toward their student account.  
  • FWS students can take their paper check to the Office of Student accounts and ask to have it applied directly to their student account.

Are Jobs On Campus Or Off Campus?

  • Both. If you work on campus, you’ll usually work for your school, specifically within a office or center on campus. If you work off campus, your employer will usually be a approved private nonprofit organization or a public agency, and the work performed must be in the public interest.
  • Butler has signed agreements with several private for-profit , non profit, and other community service related organizations for work-study jobs.

Are FWS Students Guaranteed A Job?

  • No. Supervisors are free to hire any student they feel is the best fit for the job, department, or organization.
  • However, FWS students do have the opportunity to apply for on-campus jobs on Handshake about 10 days earlier than all other students, giving them a slight advantage. Some supervisors take this into account and will hire FWS students based on financial need for a job on campus, but others will hire based purely on fit, whether they are FWS eligible or not. 

How Do I Know If I Am FWS Eligible?

  • Eligibility: On-campus student employment offered to students who have financial aid eligibility as determined by the FAFSA.
    • Average award equivalent to eight to twelve hours per week at minimum wage.
    • Award amount is not automatically deducted from the student's bill.
    • Students receive a paycheck for the hours worked every two weeks.
    • Students are required to pay taxes on earnings, however amount earned is not used against the student when determining financial aid eligibility in the following year.
    • *Available only to full-time undergraduate students pursuing their first bachelor's degree.
  • FWS students will be informed individually by Financial Aid of your eligibility status, and amount of funds offered. If a student is unsure of whether or not they are eligible for FWS funds, please contact Financial Aid at 317-940-8200 or

What Kind Of Organizations Are Part Of The FWS Community Service Program?

  • Various organizations partner with Butler University by hiring only FWS eligible students to work for the academic year. Each year, there are about 15-18+ non-profit organizations (located both on and off campus) that will hire Butler students, on the terms that Butler is responsible for paying 100% of the students' wages, up to the students' allotted FWS monetary award. These jobs are found in the same section on Handshake where on-campus jobs are located. Some organizations include:
  1. Art With A Heart 
  2. Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site 
  3. Humane Society of Indianapolis 
  4. Harrison Center for the Arts 
  5. Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra 
  6. Indianapolis Children's Choir 
  7. Indiana Legal Services 
  8. Indianapolis Symphonic Choir 
  9. International School of Indiana 
  10. Indiana Youth Institute 
  11. The Orchard School 
  12. St. Thomas Aquinas School 
  13. The Indianapolis YMCA 
  14. The Schrott Center for the Arts on Butler's campus 
  15. 211 Connect 2 Help
  16. Classical Music Indy 
  17. The International Center 

FWS Frequently Asked Questions

  • You have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible. The FAFSA must be filled out yearly.
  • Students are typically responsible for securing their own work-study jobs. Just because your financial aid award says you qualify for work-study doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job.
  • Around 3,400 colleges and universities have a Federal Work Study Program, according to the U.S. Department of Education, but not all schools do. Check with the financial aid office at your university to check if you're eligible for work study.
  • The primary benefit of the FWS program for the student is that the income from this type of employment is exempt from the income reported on the subsequent year's Financial Aid Form. 

Do I Have to Accept FWS Aid?

  • No. If work-study is on your financial aid award and you don’t intend to use it, you can decline the award. However, in most cases, getting a work-study job is a good idea, especially if it decreases your student loan borrowing and the amount of student debt you’ll face after graduation.
  • “We would much rather have our students turn to grants, work-study — any other source of aid — before they turn to loans,” says Austin Gentry, admissions advisor at New Mexico State University.

Where Do I Find a FWS Job?

  • Butler University uses the online job search platform called Handshake, to promote open on- and off-campus. Whether those are part-time or full-time. Work study positions will state "work study" in the title and include a disclaimer in the description to remind students these positions are only for federal work study eligible students. 

How Does FWS Pay And How Much Can I Earn?

  • You can opt to get paid by check (available for pick up from Student Accounts), via direct deposit, or by having the money credited to your school account to cover tuition, fees, or room and board.
  • There’s no requirement that you use the money for anything specific; many students use their work-study paychecks to cover day-to-day living costs.
  • Students earn the federal minimum wage at the very least ($7.25 in Indiana), and may actually earn more.
  • If you decide to utilize direct deposit, please take the completed form to Catherine Judson in JH 052.

Maximizing the Student Employment Experience

Do you consider working part-time as "just a job"? The reality is that your on-campus work experience is so much more than that! Using your time wisely while you work is going to positively impact your life professionally, academically, and personally. Take pride in the fact that you are working in addition to being in school.  Find out five ways to maximize your time. Also, Affordable Colleges Online has some great information for you to think through as well.


Questions regarding on-campus employment can be forwarded to Alyssa Laskowski, the On-Campus Student Employment Coordinator, located in the Career and Professional Success office in the new Lacy Building 102. She can be reached at 317-940-6562 or via e-mail at