Federal Work Study

The Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is a federally funded financial-aid program administered by Cornell University, and is designed to assist students in meeting the cost of higher education by promoting access to meaningful work experiences. If you qualify as an eligible employer, Cornell may subsidize a percentage of the wages you pay your eligible student workers.

Eligibility Requirements for Employers

To qualify as an eligible employer, the agency and positions offered must meet the following conditions established by the U.S. Department of Education:

  • FWS employment must be governed by employment conditions, including pay, that are appropriate and reasonable according to the type of work performed, the geographic region, the employee’s proficiency, and any applicable federal, state, or local laws.
  • FWS employment must not displace employees (including those on strike) or impair existing service contracts. Also, if the university has an employment agreement with an organization in the private sector, the organization’s employees must not be replaced with FWS students. Replacement is interpreted as displacement.
  • FWS positions must not involve constructing, operating, or maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or sectarian instruction. In determining whether any FWS employment will violate this restriction, a university should consider the purpose of the part of the facility in which the work will take place and the nature of the work to be performed. If the part of the facility in which the student will work is used for religious worship or sectarian instruction, the work cannot involve construction, operation, or maintenance responsibilities. If that part of the facility is not being used for religious worship or sectarian instruction, the school should make sure that any work the student will perform meets general employment conditions and that other limitations are not violated.
  • FWS positions must not involve lobbying on the federal, state or local level. A student cannot work as a political aide for any elected official. Positions also cannot be involved in any partisan or nonpartisan political activity or associated with a faction in an election for public or private office.
  • FWS cannot be used in positions that primarily benefit members of an organization that has membership limits, such as a credit union, a fraternal or religious order, or a cooperative.

If you, as an employer, have questions relating to your eligibility, please contact the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment or Cornell’s Public Service Center.