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Student Financial Assistance

FAQs About Student Employment

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What is Federal Work-Study and how do I find a job?
Employment through the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is based on financial need as determined from data reported on the FAFSA. If you are eligible for the FWS program, an estimate of what you may earn will appear on the Award Notification sent to you by SFA. To receive FWS funds, you must obtain a FWS job and be enrolled at least half time (undergraduate is 6 credit hours and graduate is 4 credit hours). Your FWS funds will be provided to you via your WKU Higher One card for the hours you actually work. Earnings are not applied to your Bursar billing account. FWS job opportunities can be viewed online through the Students interview and are hired by prospective employers. Income earned through the FWS program can be excluded from total earnings on the subsequent year's FAFSA.
How can I find a student employment job?
WKU has a large student employment program. Last year over 1,800 students earned more than 11 million dollars. WKU does not offer placement services, you are responsible for finding and securing your own student employment position. The Financial Aid Office maintains a job posting web site at For more information concerning student employment, check out
How do I get paid for Federal Work-Study earnings?
Unlike other forms of financial aid, work-study money is not disbursed in a lump sum at the beginning of the semester. Students who earn work-study are paid every two weeks via their WKU Higher One Debit Card, and the amount of pay is determined by the number of hours the student has worked during the applicable pay period multiplied by the student’s pay rate. Note also that these funds are not automatically applied to a student’s university obligations, but rather are paid directly to the student. Pay rates are at least the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Can my Federal Work-Study award be used to pay my semester bill?
Federal work study funds cannot be applied to your student account. You will be paid every other Friday for work study earnings through your WKU Higher One Account.
Are work-study earnings taxable?
The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time). Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI.
How do I go about finding a job?
Student jobs are posted at
Once I find a job I’m interested in, what do I do?
Generally, all you have to do is call the contact person listed on the job postings and set up an interview. Sometimes you may need to fax or mail resumes, and other times you may need to apply in person. If there aren’t specific instructions, just call the contact person.
What happens if I do not find a Federal Work-Study job?
Receipt of Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds is dependent on receiving a job that pays with FWS money. If you do not find an FWS job, notify SFA to see if the FWS funds may be awarded to you through another aid source (usually loans).
As a student employee, do I have to contribute to Social Security (FICA)?
Whether you are required to pay into Social Security depends on IRS policies which determine whether your main purpose is to be a student or an employee. According to these policies, a degree-seeking student who is enrolled in at least six credit hours (five for graduate students) in the academic year and working less than 32 hours per week is primarily a student, and therefore does not have to pay into retirement. Students who are enrolled in fewer hours or are working more than 32 hours per week are primarily employees, and therefore must pay into Social Security.
Do I have to pay taxes on the money I earn through Federal Work-Study?
Yes, work-study income is taxable. You will receive a W-2 from the University at the end of each year, and this form will indicate how much you made from all employment at the university, including work-study employment in the prior year. Note that although you may have to pay taxes on work-study earnings, you should list those earnings as income on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but then also report them as exclusions on the FAFSA.

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 Last Modified 9/25/14