Washington State University

Student Financial Services

Work Study

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 employer will then have to pay 100% of any wages earned that exceed the work study award limit for the term.

Award Amounts

Work study award amounts are not uniform for all students. The awards will be tailored to each student’s particular situation.  For those students whose work study awards are 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 Work Study Authorization Form (WSAF).  Work study awards usually range from $1,000-$4,000 for an academic year (two semesters) and are awarded for a full academic year in the fall semester. If funds are available, ocasionally, spring work study awards are given to a limited number of students. In general, work study is not awarded in the summer term.

Awarding Process

Students will not see a work study award on their financial aid award but will be notified if they are eligible. This notification is done through the ZZUSIS Portal and the student is also sent an email. Both notifications will include a “Work Study Authorization Form” (WSAF) that both the student and the student's employer will need to complete and return. 

Please note that in order for a student to be considered for work study, the student needs to have received their financial aid award for the academic year. Please be aware that work study is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis since there are limited work study funds from the federal and state governments to give eligible students. Submitting a WSAF does not guarantee a student a work study award.

Steps to Process Work Study:

1) The student will need to secure work study eligible employment. Check cacd.wsu.edu for employment opportunities.

2) The student will need to print the WSAF and complete the student section and have the employer complete their section. Both the student and employer must sign the WSAF form.

3) Return the completed WSAF to your local financial aid office for review and processing. 

4) The local Student Financial Services office will determine if a student receives a work study award. If a student receives an award, both the student and employer will be notified by email. The student should not work before determining if they received work study. If he/she does, it's possible the employer will be responsible to pay these wages if an award is not given to the student.

5) Once work study funding has been exhausted, students and employers both will be notified by email and no further awarding will take place. 

Work study is a need-based financial aid award and a student cannot be offered more financial aid than their cost of attendance. This means that the work study award must "fit" within the financial aid package without going over the cost of attendance. Some students may see a reduction in their loan funds to accommodate the work study 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 money by working and receiving a pay check while reducing their loan debt and gaining valuable work experience. Work study can be awarded in place of loans but will never reduce grants and/or scholarships, only loans.


Students are eligible for work study if they have at least $1,000 of unmet need-based eligibility; completed and submitted their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by WSU's priority submission deadline of February 15; checked the box on the FAFSA that they're interested in being considered for work study; and are in good academic standing with WSU and the Student Financial Services office (in terms of Satisfactory Academic Progress). To determine if you have unmet need-based eligibility,  take your Total Cost of Attendance (COA) for WSU minus your FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC) minus any scholarships or grants. This figure will provide your need-based eligibility determination.

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

An example of a student who does not have work study eligibility:
24,938 = COA
-20,500 (EFC)
-4,438 (Scholarships and Grants)
= 0 Need-Based Eligibility

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 have a work study job on-campus through a WSU employer, get paid by WSU twice per month on the 10th and 25th of each month. Students may have their paycheck mailed or students may set up direct deposit through WSU Payroll Services so they can be paid electronically. 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 are employed by 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. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page by clicking here.

Off Campus Work Study

The purpose of the Off Campus Work Study Program is to reimburse employers a percentage of gross pay for positions that are directly related to the student’s major or is a community service related position. To become an “approved” off campus work-study employer, the employer must provide a job to the student that is directly related to the student’s major (RCW 28.B12.060) or is a non-profit non-sectarian community service organization. The student must be a Washington state resident awarded work study funding.

Approved off campus work study employers pay students the same as any other employee including FICA, Workman’s Compensation, and Federal Income Tax and any other taxes. The employer requests reimbursement for the students’ wages by submitting timesheets to the Student Financial Services office located on the WSU Pullman campus. The employer is responsible for paying for 100% of the wages earned by a student employee once the work study funds have been utilized and are exhausted.

Eligibility for work-study is determined by a valid Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that was filed on or before the published priority filing date, indication on the FAFSA that he or she is interested in work study, have need based eligibility and no problems with maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).

How the Process Works

  • Complete the Washington State Employer Contract and the Job Description Form used to participate in the program and receive approval. Submit completed forms to your local campus office.
  • The employer hires the student and is responsible for all of the normal payroll expenses (SSN, Medicare, federal tax, etc.). 
  • To receive the reimbursement for a portion of the student’s wages, the employer returns a completed Work Study Timesheet (provided by WSU or online at WSAC web site) to Student Financial Services office
  • Submit completed time sheets to the following address:

Student Financial Services
Lighty Student Services, 380
PO Box 641068
Pullman, WA 99164-1068

  • When the Work Study Timesheet is processed, the employer will receive a reimbursement.
Links for Additional Information
Contact Us
Campus Contact Email Phone Numer Fax Number
Pullman  Main Office sfs.workstudy@wsu.edu 509-335-9711 509-335-6831
Spokane Tanya Bailey tanya.bailey@wsu.edu 509-358-7536 509-358-7538
Tri-Cities  Dallas Barnes dbarnes@tricity.wsu.edu 509-372-7172 509-372-7100
Vancouver  Cougar Center finaid@vancouver.wsu.edu 360-546-9559 360-546-9032 



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.