Washington State University

Student Financial Services


Work-study is a need-based financial aid award. It is neither a grant, as you must work to earn it, nor a loan, as you do not have to pay it back. However, funds are limited and you must qualify for need-based financial aid in order to receive work-study. Work-study never reduces grants or scholarships, only loans! Work-study funds are awarded to qualifying students to assist them in obtaining employment.

The work–study program subsidizes the students' wages. Work-study funds are used to reimburse a percentage of students’ gross pay, but do not cover 100% of the wages. The gross pay comes from two sources: work-study funds, plus employer funds. While the program serves as an incentive for employers to hire students, it also creates jobs that would not otherwise exist.  When the accumulated gross pay earned during the term reaches the work-study award limit, the work-study funding stops and the employers’ pay 100% of any wages earned that exceed the work-study award limit for the term.


Students are eligible for work-study if they have at least $1000 of unmet  need-based eligibility, have completed their FAFSA by the February 15th priority deadline, checked on the FAFSA to be considered for work-study, and are in good academic standing. To determine if you have any need eligibility take your Total Cost of Attendance (COA) for WSU minus your FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC) minus any scholarships or grants. This will equal your need based eligibility.

Example of student with work-study eligibility:
24,938 = COA
-100 (EFC)
-10,000 (Scholarships and Grants)
= 14,838 of Need-Based Eligibility

Example of a student who is not eligible for work-study:
24,938 = COA
-20,500 (EFC)
-4438 (Scholarships and Grants)
= 0 Need-Based Eligibility

How Am I Awarded Work-Study?

Students will not see a work-study award on their financial aid award letter but will be notified through zzusis if they are eligible and will be provided a “Work-Study Authorization Form” (WSAF) that both the student and employer will need to complete.  The student will need to secure employment as well as complete the WSAF prior to starting employment. Awarding will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Once funding is exhausted, students and employers will be notified that no more awards will be made.

After the completed WSAF is returned to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, Student Employment will determine if the student can be awarded work-study based upon available funding (first-come, first-serve). Students will not be awarded work-study until the WSAF has been received and approved by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Submitting the form does not guarantee work-study.

Work-study is a need-based financial aid award so it must fit within the financial aid package. This means that some students will have to allow for a reduction in their loan funds to accommodate for the award.  The student does not need to request to have this reduction take place as it will automatically be adjusted when the WSAF is approved and work-study is awarded.  This is a great opportunity for students to earn the money through a paycheck while reducing their loan debt and gaining valuable work experience. Work-study can be awarded in place of loans but will never reduce grants or scholarships, only loans.

Award Amounts - How Much Can I Get?

Work-study award amounts are not uniform to all students. The awards will be tailored to each student’s situation.  For those students whose work-study award was approved, the amount of the award will be tailored to both the position and the number of hours (within Work-Study Rules) that were noted by the employer on the WSAF.  Depending on hourly wage, number of hours worked, and employer indication on the WSAF, work-study awards usually range from $1,000-$4,000 for an academic year.

Is Work-Study Limited to On-Campus Employers?

No, work-study can be used both on-campus or off-campus. When a student works on-campus, the student works for and is paid by WSU. When a student works for an off-campus employer, the student works for and is paid by an organization other than WSU.

On-Campus Work-Study Employment
Students who use their work-study on-campus work for a WSU department. They get paid by WSU twice per month on the 10th and 25th of each month. Students may have their paycheck mailed or set up direct deposit with Payroll Services. On-campus employers please refer to the Supervisors Handbook for additional information on employing work-study students.

Off-Campus Work-Study Employment
Students may use their work-study off-campus if they work for an eligible off-campus employer. Students should not assume they can use their work-study at any off-campus employer. The off-campus employer must be eligible to participate in the Off-Campus Work-Study Program. The purpose of the Off-Campus Work-Study Program is to provide work experience directly related to student’s academic or vocational pursuits (RCW 28B312.010). Positions where the duties are not directly related to the student’s academic or vocational pursuits are not eligible for participation in the Off-Campus Work-Study Program. Non-profit, non-sectarian community service employers are always eligible to participate in the Off-Campus Work Study Program. All students are encouraged to work for community service employers.


For questions about work-study eligibility or to check on the status of a WSAF please contact Student Employment at studentjobs@wsu.edu.

Contact Us
Jamie Comstock
Financial Aid Office
Frank McNeilly, Graduate Assistant
Financial Aid Office




Office Hours:
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Student Financial Services, Lighty Building Room 380, Washington State University, PO Box 641068, Pullman WA 99164-1068, 509-335-9711.