Federal Work-Study Policy

a)     What is Federal Work Study?

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program at Michigan State University College of Law (College of Law) is a need-based financial aid program which provides part-time employment to students attending the College of Law. Under this program, funds are given to participating colleges and universities by the federal government to administer in accordance with the guidelines provided by the U. S. Department of Education. 

b)     Who is eligible for Federal Work Study funds?

Students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the current year (e.g. the 2017-2018 FAFSA covers the Fall 2017, Spring 2018 and Summer 2018 terms), may request FWS by contacting the Office of Financial Aid at finaid@law.msu.edu. The office will determine eligibility based on availability of funds and the impact on the student’s federal loan award(s).

The information provided on the FAFSA is analyzed by the Office of Financial Aid to determine the student’s financial need. The student must also meet the following requirements:

  • Be a U. S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen (permanent resident of the U. S.)
  • Be enrolled as a degree seeking student at the College of Law
  • Be enrolled in at least 5 credits during Fall or Spring semester.
  • Students are first eligible to receive an award of FWS after completing 12 credit hours and achieving a minimum 2.0 GPA.

 

FWS eligibility means that you meet the minimum requirements to receive an award.  If eligible for FWS, secure qualifying FWS employment submit the FWS Student Request Form and have an award added to your financial aid package. Eligible students will receive a Work-Study contract through email or in person from the Office of Financial Aid as award amounts are determined by the office. You must interview for a position and be hired at a qualifying agency before an award can be added to your financial aid package and before you can be paid. The ultimate decision to hire you is made by the hiring department or off-campus agency and not by the Office of Financial Aid or the Career Services Office.

c)      How is Federal Work Study calculated?

The FWS award amount represents the maximum amount which may be earned for the position; however, students may earn less than this award based on the number of hours they actually work. It is the student’s responsibility to monitor hours so that the maximum earnings are realized, but not exceeded. Initially, the FWS award reflects the total maximum gross earnings for a qualified position. This is determined by the following equation:

FWS Award = [# of weeks] times [hourly pay rate] times [# of hours per week]

If a student has used the maximum amount of financial aid offered for the financial aid year and wishes to participate in the FWS program, s/he may return or reduce loan funds in order to add an award to his/her financial aid package. To do so, the student is responsible for contacting the Financial Aid Office, Room 316 of the College of Law building, to request this in writing.

Example A

Example B

Cost of Attending/Available Aid = $55,000

Student Borrows full $55,000

Add a $4,000 FWS Award/Earn $4,000

 

Before FWS Award

Available Aid: $55,000

Loans: ($55,000)

Remaining Aid Available = $0

 

After FWS Award Added

Available Aid: $55,000

Loans*: ($51,000)

Initial FWS Award: ($4,000)

Remaining Aid Available: $0

*Return $4,000 Loan Funds

 

Actual FWS Earnings = $3,000**

**FWS award changed from $4,000 to $3,000

 

Available Aid: $55,000

Loans: ($51,000)

Actual FWS Earnings: ($3,000)

 

Remaining Aid Available***: $1000

***The remaining $1,000 may be reinstated as additional loan.

Cost of Attending/Available Aid = $55,000

Student Borrows only $30,000

Add a $4,000 FWS Award/Earn $4,000

 

Before FWS Award

Available Aid: $55,000

Loans: ($30,000)

Remaining Aid Available = $25,000

 

After FWS Award Added

Available Aid: $55,000

Loans: ($30,000)

Initial FWS Award: ($4,000)

Remaining Aid Available: $21,000

Remaining Available Aid Reduced by $4,000

 

Actual FWS Earnings = $3,000**

**FWS award changed from $4,000 to $3,000

 

Available Aid: $55,000

Loans: ($30,000)

Actual FWS Earnings: ($3,000)

 

Remaining Aid Available***: $22,000

***Increase remaining aid available by $1,000

For the fall and spring semesters, the FWS award is part of the financial aid package of that corresponding fall or spring semester. For the summer term, the FWS award is added as follows:

  • Not registered for summer term courses: Entire FWS award is off-set from the next semester of enrollment’s financial aid package, which reduces the loan eligibility amount for that next semester.
  • Registered for summer term courses: For work performed from the beginning of the summer term until the end of the summer term, the FWS award is part of the summer term financial aid package. For work performed after the summer term ends, the FWS award is off-set from the next semester of enrollment’s financial aid package, which reduces the loan eligibility amount for that next semester.
  • Both summer circumstances: Students are required to be registered for at least 5 credit hours for the next semester in order to receive an award of FWS during the summer term.

Students receiving FWS awards during the fall and spring semesters are expected to use their FWS earnings to meet the cost of their education for the current corresponding semester. Students participating during the summer term are expected to use their FWS earnings to meet the cost of their education for the summer term and/or to save their earnings to meet the cost of their education for the following fall semester. If you have any questions about the FWS award as it pertains to your financial aid package, please contact the Financial Aid Office, Room 316 of the College of Law building.

d)      When can a student use a Federal Work Study award?

  • Fall: First day of fall classes to the last day of fall finals
  • Spring: First day of spring classes to the last day of spring finals
  • Summer: First day of summer classes to the Friday prior to the first day of fall classes

We strongly recommend that first year J.D. students devote themselves full-time to a rigorous course of study, unencumbered by the demands of a part-time job. However, they may, on an exceptional basis, request written permission from the Office of Student Engagement to work on-campus in the FWS program. First-year students, even with permission, will not be approved for off-campus FWS positions.

Similarly, we strongly recommend that non-J.D. students devote themselves full-time to a rigorous course of study, unencumbered by the demands of a part-time job. However, they may, on an exceptional basis, request written permission from the Office of Graduate and International Programs to work on-campus in the Federal Work-Study program. Non-J.D. students, even with permission, will not be approved for off-campus FWS positions.

During the fall and spring semesters, full-time students are permitted to work a maximum of 20 FWS hours per week and part-time students are permitted to work full-time. During periods of non-enrollment (Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks), all students may work a maximum of 40 FWS hours per week. Under no circumstances may a student work more than 40 FWS hours per week. During the summer, students who are not enrolled in classes may work up to 40 FWS hours per week. Students enrolled for 3 or more credits during the summer may work up to 20 FWS hours per week.

e)      How does a student apply for Federal Work Study funds?

Step 1: File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to establish a financial aid package. See section (b) above for minimum qualifications.

Step 2: Contact Office of Financial Aid to Verify FWS Eligibility

Any questions regarding eligibility should be directed to the Financial Aid Office, Room 316 of the College of Law building.

Step 3: Find a Qualified Position

Apply for and receive an employment offer from a qualified employer. Any off-campus employer must be approved by the College of Law and must sign an agreement detailing its obligations under the FWS program. Contact the Career Services Office, Room 301 of the College of Law building, to determine whether an employer qualifies.

Step 4: Submit the FWS Student Request Form to the Financial Aid Office by the following deadlines to determine if an award may be added to your financial aid package.

  • Deadline for position during Fall: August 1
  • Deadline for position during Spring: December 15
  • Deadline for position during Summer: May 1

FWS Student Request Forms are accepted on a rolling basis and requests received on or before the deadline receive top priority. Requests received after the deadline will be considered only if FWS funds are still available. FWS awards are given in the order the Request Forms are received and are limited by the amount of federal funding received by the school, so you are encouraged to apply early. There is no guarantee that funds will be available for FWS, including for summer, so it is possible that a student may be deemed eligible, but not receive any funds.

Step 5: Selection

Each term, the Financial Aid Office reviews the FWS Student Request Forms and selects students to receive an award. FWS awards are granted based on when the FWS Student Request Form is submitted, whether the student is eligible to receive an award of FWS in his or her financial aid package, place of employment (with priority given to College of Law and legal-related employers), school year, prior receipt of an award, and any other funding made available to the student. Priority is given to students who have never received an award and/or who will graduate at the end of the semester.

f)      Where can a student work to receive Federal Work Study funds?

On-Campus FWS Employment

Jobs may be available at the College of Law including positions with Admissions, Career Services, Communications, Advancement, and the Library. Research or Teaching Assistants positions may also available.

Off-Campus FWS Employment

The College of Law contracts with select nonprofit and government organizations to offer FWS employment at off-campus locations. Any off-campus placements must ensure that the work performed by students can be categorized as legal related community service.  Students are expected to perform legal tasks, such as research, analysis, investigation, counseling or legal writing. Non-legal clerical or other tasks should not be a significant part of the student’s experience, and should be kept to a minimum.

See Appendix A for the list of qualified nonprofit and government agencies (coming soon). If an agency does not appear on this list, contact the Career Services Office, Room 301 of the College of Law building, to determine whether or not it qualifies. Each employer must be approved by the College of Law and sign an agreement detailing its obligations under the FWS Program to be considered a qualified agency.

g)     How can students find Federal Work Study jobs?

On-Campus FWS Employment

On-campus job opportunities at the College of law will be advertised in CASE (the College of Law’s online job bank database), The Spartan Law Docket, and/or via signs around the Law building.

Off-Campus FWS Employment

Off-campus job opportunities for students are posted in CASE (the College of Law’s online job listing database). Only the employers listed on Appendix A (coming soon) currently qualify for FWS placements. However, students may find job opportunities on their own at nonprofit and government organizations, either via CASE or by other means. In these cases, the student must talk to the Career Services Office, Room 301 of the College of Law building, to and ask that the College of Law contact the off-campus site in order to establish a contractual agreement between the College of Law and the off-campus work location for it to be a qualifying agency.

h)     What happens after the student is accepts a Federal Work Study job?

The student must inform the Financial Aid Office, Room 316 of the College of Law building, that the student has secured a position that, where it is, and whether the student still plans to utilize the FWS funds.  If it is an off-campus position, The Office of Financial Aid and the Career Services Office will consult to verify that it is at a qualified agency.

On-Campus FWS Employment

After the student has been approved for employment in an on-campus FWS job, the student must contact the Accounting Office to obtain a Payroll Packet. The student must submit a complete Payroll Packet no later than one week prior to the student’s anticipated first day of work.

Off-Campus FWS Employment

After the student has been approved for employment in an off-campus FWS job at a qualifying site, the Financial Aid Office informs the student if the site pays the student directly or if the student needs to complete the Payroll Packet for the Accounting Office at the College of Law.

The Payroll Packet is available in the Accounting Office. It includes:

  • State and Federal W-4 Forms
  • I-9 Form (The FWS student must present original required documentation to the Accounting Office for inspection. Copies will then be made of the required documentation.)
  • Authorization Agreement for Automatic Deposit (if the FWS student chooses to have their paycheck directly deposited in their bank account).

i)       How will a student be compensated for Federal Work Study positions?

FWS students employed by the College of Law are paid semi-monthly for hours worked. FWS students are responsible for accurately completing timesheets which will be signed by the supervisor. The supervisor’s signature certifies that all information on the timesheet is correct and that the work was completed satisfactorily. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the timesheet is submitted to the Accounting Office within three (3) days of the end of the pay period. Failure to submit a timesheet directly from the supervisor, or in a timely manner, will result in the FWS student not receiving his/her paycheck(s) on time.

FWS students employed by an off-campus employer must maintain accurate timesheets. The employer will pay the student according to its own policies, unless a specific exception applies having the student compensated by the College of Law.

The FWS award is not applied to the student account or awarded to the student in one lump sum. Rather, the FWS award is gradually earned and the gross earnings are taxable. Student employees receive this FWS Award over time via payroll paychecks for actual hours worked. Federal income tax and Social Security will be withheld from pay unless the student meets IRS student tax-exempt status. FWS student employees are issued a W-2 at the end of the calendar year.

FWS student employees are only paid for actual hours worked and are not eligible for any benefits. FWS student employees can only receive compensation for hours worked outside of scheduled class time. There is no compensation for lunch or break times, sick days, vacation days, or holidays. Students working more than 7 hours in one day are required to take a 30-minute unpaid lunch. Students are responsible for coordinating their work schedule with their supervisor and meeting the schedule to the best of their ability. All work absences must be cleared by the supervisor.

FWS student employment terminates when the total maximum gross earnings for the position is reached or on the termination date, whichever occurs first. FWS student employment may terminate due to poor performance, misconduct, excessive absences, tardiness, or at will.  FWS student employment terminates upon graduation, withdrawal or dismissal from the College of Law.

FWS student employees should give a two-week notice prior to resigning from their position whenever this resignation occurs before the authorized termination date. If a student is offered a paid position, then s/he is required to contact the Financial Aid Office, Room 316 of the College of Law building, to adjust and end the FWS award.

j)      Which College of Law offices administer the Federal Work Study program?

Office of Financial Aid

The Office of Financial Aid determines FWS eligibility, authorizes FWS awards, processes the FWS Student Request Form, and notifies students of their FWS award amounts.

Career Services Office

The Career Services Office handles all off-campus FWS job placement sites. Its staff communicates with off-campus employers and obtains written agreements from any off-campus sites that will serve as qualifying agencies for FWS students. Career Services also maintains CASE, the College of Law’s online job bank database.

Accounting Office

The Accounting Office collects all appropriate employment documentation from each FWS student, creates and maintains their records in the payroll system, and processes all student timesheets submitted by FWS supervisors.

A list of qualifying employers will be available soon.