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Federal Work Study

Federal Work Study

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.

Students who have been awarded Federal Work Study (FWS) as a part of their financial aid package must secure on campus employment or Community Service employment in order to receive the offered tax benefit. Work Study and Community Work Study 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, Metro Diner, etc. 

Here are some resources for FWS student employees:

How Do I Submit Hours On My Timesheet? 
When do I get paid? Payroll Schedule 
New Hire Paperwork Packet (If you have never worked as a Butler student employee, you will need to complete this preliminary paperwork.)

Federal Work Study Community Service Program

The Federal Work-Study - Community Service (FWS-CS) program gives students an opportunity to earn money to help pay for your educational expenses. Off-campus employers, within the program, receive a large subsidy when they hire Work-Study students, so you are much more likely to be hired if you have Work-Study eligibility.

These organizations partner with Butler University by hiring only Work-Study eligible students to work for the academic year. Each year, there are about 15-20 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.


Among the many benefits of being a federal work study student and receiving the tax exemption credit, 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 Kinds of Jobs are There?

  • The Federal Work-Study Program emphasizes employment in civic education and work related to your course of study whenever possible.
  • Although your aid award may list a certain amount allocated for work-study — say, $5,000 — 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 that amount.

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.  The primary benefit of the Federal Work Study 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. If a student works beyond the dollars offered through Federal Work Study, the additional income will have to be reported on the subsequent Financial Aid Form.

Are Jobs on Campus or Off-Campus?

  • Both. If you work on campus, you’ll usually work for your school. If you work off campus, your employer will usually be a private nonprofit organization or a public agency, and the work performed must be in the public interest.
  • Some schools might have agreements with private for-profit employers for work-study jobs. These jobs must be relevant to your course of study (to the maximum extent possible).

Are FWS Students Guaranteed an On-Campus Job?

  • 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?

  • Federal work study (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.

Are There Other Employment Options for FWS Students?

  • Various organizations partner with Butler University by hiring only FWS eligible students to work for the academic year. Each year, there are about 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.

What Kind of Organizations are Part of the Federal Work Study Community Service Program?

  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 
  18. Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic

Federal Work Study FAQs

  • You have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible.
  • 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.

Do I Have to Accept Work-Study Aid?

  • 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 to Find an Eligible Work-Study 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 Work-Study Pay?

  • 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.
  • 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 Internship & Career Services office in Atherton Union 315. She can be reached at (317) 940-6562 or via e-mail at