What is Federal Work-Study (FWS)?

The FWS Program provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students to finance the costs of postsecondary education. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage.

Students may be employed by: the institution itself; a federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit organization. 

Students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of the application process for FWS assistance. The FAFSA can be completed on the Web at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.  


How to get Federal Work-Study at Cuesta College:

  1. File your FAFSA and complete the application process
  2. Submit a FWS Interest Form to the Financial Aid Office.
  3. Find a FWS position.
  4. Make sure your new employer fills out the appropriate paperwork:
    • FWS referral form
    • Job description form
    • Personnel Authorization Request Form (AKA "PARF" or "top sheet")
    • Scope of Work form
    • If your employer isn't sure what to do, have them check out our "FWS info for employers" page.
  5. Employer sends your paperwork up chain of command to appropriate VP office, who sends paperwork to Financial Aid for final clearance
  6. Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) status is checked
    • If you are on warning prior to the term's beginning, paperwork will be held until the SAP run has been completed and you are found to be meeting SAP standards.
    • If you are making satisfactory progress or have submitted a successful SAP appeal, your paperwork will be processed immediately.
  7. The Financial Aid Office gives you a work-study award.
    • Maximum amount is $3,000 for the entire academic year
    • Amount cannot exceed unmet need
  8. The Financial Aid Office sends your paperwork to Human Resources (HR).
  9. HR contacts you to arrange tuberculosis testing, fingerprinting, and a new employee orientation.
  10. HR clears you to work.


NOTE: You CANNOT begin working prior to HR clearance. Failure to get HR clearance before working will result in your FWS award being revoked. 


Finding a Position

Having a FWS award does NOT guarantee you a position. It is your responsibility to find an open FWS position. Your award may be removed or awarded to another student after days of inactivity, so please be proactive!

To search for work study jobs, register for the Cuesta online job database. Once you find an employer that is willing to hire you for a FWS position, make sure that employer submits a completed FWS Personnel Authorization Request to Hire Temporary Employee Form and FWS Work Site Referral Form to the Financial Aid Office. 


HR Process

In addition to finding a job, you will need to work with the Cuesta College Human Resources Department to do the following:

  • Attend mandatory employee orientation;

  • Pick up Fingerprinting Form, TB Testing Form, and New Employee Paperwork Packet from Human Resources. (Be sure to take your Social Security card and a photo ID!);

  • Note that fingerprinting results may take up to thirty (30) days to arrive; therefore, plan according as you cannot start working until HR clears you and all of your paperwork.

  • Upon completion of fingerprinting, TB testing and New Employee Paperwork Packet, submit receipt forms and New Employee Paperwork Packet to Human Resources;

Once Human Resources receives clearance for your fingerprints and TB test, a time card will be sent to the Financial Aid Office indicating that you may begin work.

  • The Financial Aid Office will provide time cards once your employment papers are completed;

  • Timecards must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by the due date printed on the FWS time card;


Salary / Hours

If you qualify for FWS aid, your salary may start at the federal minimum wage, but it may be higher, depending on the type of work and required skills. The total award amount depends on the application date, the level of your need, and how much FWS money the school has to award.

Undergraduate students are paid by the hour. Unlike a loan program, money is not paid before you earn it. No FWS student may be paid by commission or fee. Students must be paid by the school directly at least once a month.

The amount you earn cannot exceed your total FWS award. Any overage or overtime must be paid by the employer out of their own funds. When assigning work hours, the employer or financial aid administrator takes your class schedule and academic progress into consideration.

Note: No FWS funds are available in the summer. Students cannot work beyond the last day of classes in the Spring semester.