Federal Work-Study (FWS) Community Service Employer's Program


Federal Work-Study Info for EmployersOpens in new window Opens in new window

Federal Work Study Info for StudentsOpens in new window

Introduction to the Federal Work-Study Program

Federal Work-Study is a federally subsidized work program, which provides on-campus and off-campus employment opportunities to eligible undergraduate and graduate students with financial need.  The FWS program provides part-time employment to students attending CSUF who need the funding to help meet their costs of post-secondary education.  Through the Federal Work-Study Program, students engage in work for the University and non-profit agencies (as defined by the Internal Revenue Service).  Students employed through the Federal Work-Study Program provide essential services to the University and to the community that enable them to gain valuable work experience. At least 7% of the FWS allocation for Cal State Fullerton must be paid to students working in Community Service jobs.

Off-campus community service EMPLOYERS

  • Local nonprofit, governmental, and community-based organizations can qualify as community service employers if the work performed meets the definition of community services in the regulations (private, for-profit organizations do not qualify as employers for community service under the FWS Program).

  • Defined as services that are identified by an institution of higher education through formal or informal consultation with local nonprofit, government, and community-based organizations, as designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs. Examples of the types of positions are in the next section of this document.

  • Students do not have to provide a “direct” service, but must provide services that are designed to improve the quality of life for community residents or to solve particular problems related to those residents’ needs.

  • Federal funds for FWS traditionally pay 75% of the students’ salaries up to their award amounts, and the employer pays the additional 25%. There are a few specialized roles within FWS which are 100% paid by federal funding. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

  • For the 2023-2024 academic school year (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024) Cal State Fullerton has received a waiver of the institutional match of 25%. All FWS positions for this academic year are paid 100% by federal funds. The school may apply to renew this waiver each year, but it is not guaranteed. 2023-2024 is the fifth year that Cal State Fullerton has received this waiver.

  • The number of training hours paid via Federal Work-Study students should not exceed 20 hours.

  • Students can be paid during preparation and evaluation activities for a reasonable amount of time (1 hr. each week is cited).

  • Schools should promote these opportunities to students by notifying each student individually or via general means such as campus websites or publications.

Examples of FWS community service roles

  • Fields such as health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutorial services), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response;

  • Work in service opportunities or youth corps under AmeriCorps, and service in the agencies, institutions, and activities described later;

  • Support services for students with disabilities (including students with disabilities who are enrolled at the school); and

  • Activities in which an FWS student serves as a mentor for such purposes as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

Off-campus community service employer commitments

  • Off-Campus employers must enter into a written agreement—a contract—with Cal State Fullerton.

  • The agreement should specify what share of student compensation and other costs will be paid by the off-campus organization. Any off-campus organization may pay:

    • the nonfederal share of student earnings;

    • required employer costs, such as the employer’s share of Social Security or workers’ compensation; and

    • the school’s administrative costs not already paid from its Administrative Cost Allowance (ACA).

  • The agreement sets forth the FWS work conditions and establishes whether the school or the off-campus organization will be the employer for such purposes as hiring, firing, and paying the student.

  • The agreement should define whether the off-campus organization will assume payroll responsibility and bill the school for the federal share of the students’ wages, or whether the school will pay the students and bill the off-campus organization for its contribution

  • The employer is generally considered to be the entity that will control and direct the work of the FWS students—supervising them at the work site, regulating their hours of work, and generally ensuring that they perform their duties properly

  • The agreement must state whether the school or off-campus organization is liable for any on-the-job injuries to the student. The employer is not automatically liable. Federal FWS funds cannot be used to pay an injured student’s hospital expenses.

  • The off-campus employer may scan and e-mail time sheets to provide them for invoicing, but must also provide the original copies of time sheets to the school for record keeping. Original copies should be mailed or hand delivered to the school at the first opportunity.

Community Service employment contract processing

1. Submission of Contract to CSUF

  • Community Service Employer completes contract and shares with the Office of Financial Aid

2. The Office of Financial Aid submits Contract for Approval

  • The Office of Financial Aid submits Community Service Employer contract to COntracts and Procurement for final approval

3. The Office of Financial Aid follows up with Community Service Employer

  • Once approved, the Office of Financial Aid will provide a finalized copy of the contract to the Community Service Employer along with resource documents

Community Service Employment Resources (Provided after Contract is Fully Approved)

  • Off-campus Employment Authorization Form

    • To request authorization to hire a particular student

  • Federal Work-Study Reimbursement Procedures Checklist

    • To provide guidance to Community Service Employers of the procedures necessary for reimbursement

  • Payment Acknowledgement Form

    • A required document of the reimbursement process

  • Reimbursement Request Form

    • To request reimbursement of FWS wages for students within a month

  • Estimated Weekly Hours

    • Resource for employers to determine an estimate of weekly hours for their FWS students

  • Tracking Monthly Earnings

    • Resource for employers to track the monthly earnings and remaining FWS balance for their FWS students


We have put together these handy FAQ sheets:

FWS Off-Campus Employers FAQs PDF File Opens in new window


Contact the Federal Work-Study Coordinator

Phone: 657-278-3125