Federal Work-Study Rules and Guidelines

The Federal Work-Study program is a form of financial assistance provided to students through part-time employment. This employment program is partially funded by the U.S. federal government and is designed to help qualifying students fund their education. This aid is available each year for the period of July 1 through June of the following year. 

Federal Work-Study positions can be found across University departments and within the off-campus community. From assisting with research, serving the community, and working live events, students will find a diverse selection of Federal Work-Study opportunities to compliment their academic and professional interests and goals.

You can review eligibility rules below.

  • Students must be United States citizens or permanent residents.
  • To apply for Federal Work-Study, students must complete the FAFSA for every year they need to receive aid. Students can fill out the FAFSA online at the StudentAid.gov website. 
  • Federal Work-Study is need-based in accordance with your financial data submitted. 


Students are paid depending on the job title and job classification assigned by the employer. You can review the minimum and maximums on the Wage Ranges and Earnings Limits page. Federal Work-Study students are not eligible for fringe benefits such as paid breaks, paid sick days, paid vacation days, paid holidays, or unemployment benefits. Federal Work-Study earnings are fully taxable. The University issues a W-2 to the student at the end of the calendar year that reflects all University earnings for that year.

Both the employer and the student should monitor the student’s Federal Work Study award. Students may not be paid from Federal Work Study funds beyond their Federal Work Study award. Students who have not signed up for direct deposit will have their checks mailed to the active mailing address with the university Human Resources Office, if there is no active mailing address checks will be mailed to the home address on file with the university. 

If a student becomes ineligible for payment under the Federal Work Study program (the student has already earned his/her Federal Work-Study award, worked more than the hours allowed), the employer will be responsible for 100% of the student’s wages.

Students may not work during their scheduled class hours.

Students may work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (including Spring Break), except as noted on the pay schedule. They may work a maximum of 40 hours during the winter, holiday, and summer breaks.  Students who are enrolled full time during the summer may only work 20 hours per week during the summer.

Students may not work more than six consecutive hours without taking an unpaid, half-hour break. Since it is the University’s responsibility to ensure that this regulation is met, employers should carefully review timesheets. You will receive a system notification if you attempt to schedule more than six consecutive hours. Should a timesheet be submitted for more than six consecutive hours of work, the break will be deducted from the total number of hours submitted for payment or the timesheet may be returned unpaid. Employers should take care to schedule workers with required breaks in mind. 

Federal Work Study pay periods are bi-weekly and timesheets should be submitted in agreement with that schedule. In accordance with federal regulations, students must be paid within four weeks of work performed.

Students may only submit late timesheets for the past four weeks, not including the current pay period. The employer will be required to pay late timesheets on their own payroll. In all cases, Federal Work-Study earnings must be paid in the award year in which they were earned. 

An employer must assign a full-time employee to supervise the student's work, monitor the students’ allocations and hours worked, and to review and approve timesheets.

Work-Study Students Are Governed By University Policies

As University employees, work-study students are governed by certain policies related to the University's accreditation and memberships.

As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Council of Ivy Group Presidents (Ivy League), it is imperative that members of the Columbia University community, in all matters related to the intercollegiate athletics program, exhibit the highest professional standards and ethical behavior with regard to adherence to NCAA, Conference, University, and Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education rules and regulations.

Please visit the University Compliance website for more information about the Protection of Minors

The Federal Work-Study program runs from July through June. Students may work and be paid through Federal Work-Study only during the following dates:

University Holidays

Students may work on University holidays. To learn more about University holidays, use the calendar tool available at the Columbia Human Resources website.