Federal Work Study

The work study option

Most financial aid packages include an academic year work expectation. The standard amount of the work expectation is usually $2,600, and is funded by Cornell and partially by the Federal Work Study Program.

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. For approved community-service eligible employers, the Federal Work Study subsidy may subsidize up to 75 percent of the wages paid to eligible student workers.  Non-community service-based positions may subsidize 50 percent of the wages paid to eligible student workers.

Work-study does not mean you get paid to study, but rather work in real jobs and earn money to assist in covering educational expenses. The amount you are expected to earn is listed as part of your financial aid package.

The Benefits of Federal Work Study

  • You earn money to help you keep your expenses under control.
  • You gain work experience and new skills, which improves your marketability when applying for future internships and jobs after graduation.
  • You expand your network of contacts and acquire references, both of which you will use for future job opportunities.
  • You are a more appealing job applicant to many employers – FWS eligibility gives you an edge in a competitive job market.
  • You can apply for summer work-study to be used either on-campus or off-campus with pre-approved employers. It is highly advantageous to have summer FWS eligibility because most colleges in the United States do not award summer FWS.

Employment Earnings Eligibility (EEE) is not the same as FWS

You may have EEE as part of your financial aid package in addition to, or as a replacement of FWS.

  • EEE is awarded to students who are not eligible for FWS.
  • EEE is similar to FWS but is not supported by federal funds.
  • EEE indicates that you are still expected to work and earn a specific amount to help meet your expenses. However, your employer is not reimbursed for a portion of your wages.
  • Your take home pay is the same, regardless of EEE or FWS


  • During Academic Year 2009-2010, nearly 8,000 Cornell students worked, earning more than $10,000,000, of which nearly $3,000,000 was earned by FWS eligible students.
  • On average, student employees work approximately nine hours per week. Work schedules are coordinated between the student and the employer.