George Mason University

Federal Work-Study

General Information

What is Federal Work-Study?

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program is a need-based program which provides part-time employment opportunities to eligible students to help meet the costs of post-secondary education. Based on the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), eligible students are awarded an allotment which may be earned through part-time employment in FWS approved positions either on or off campus. The program is designed to provide students with an opportunity for employment arranged around class schedules. Students must be enrolled at least half-time (six credit hours per semester) to be eligible for this program. If you wish to be considered for this program, you should indicate this preference on the FAFSA or, if not awarded FWS in your initial award package, you should contact your financial aid counselor or the FWS Coordinator.

To apply for available FWS positions click here.


There are certain requirements in order to determine Federal Work-Study eligibility. In order to be considered for FWS students must:

  • Have a current FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Financial Aid.
  • Be enrolled at Mason in a degree or eligible certificate program.
  • Demonstrate financial need based.
  • Be enrolled for at least half-time (six credit hours per semester for undergraduate and 4.5 for graduate).
  • Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • Be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen.
  • If male, meet Selective Service eligibility.
Benefits of Federal Work-Study

The program is designed to provide students with an opportunity for employment arranged around class schedules. FWS provides students an opportunity to earn money for their college expenses, gives inexperienced students a chance to learn the basics of the workplace, and provides students an opportunity to work in a field that may be of interest and helps prepare students to enter the workforce. George Mason University (GMU) also benefits from the unique talents and experiences students bring to the campus. A job contributes to more than just financial assistance for a student’s college education; it also offers the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and skills to assist with educational and career goals. The money a student earns through this program is not used to determine their financial need for the following school year.

Types of Jobs

There are various Federal Work-Study positions on and off campus. Obtaining a FWS position is a competitive process so an early start is essential to success. Students are encouraged to apply to as many positions as possible to increase their odds of finding a position.

Need help with you resume or cover letter? University Career Services is a great place to start, pay their office or website a visit.


Positions on-campus are a great way for students to earn their FWS award. Available opportunities include office and clerical support, student services, tutoring, athletics, laboratory and research assistantships, and various other positions through all of Mason’s campuses. Working in any one of Mason’s departments is a great way to build on-campus relationships, enrich a student’s community engagement and further a student’s opportunities post-graduation.

Off- Campus

Students interested in working off-campus may apply to various positions with partner organizations. Students employed in this area gain valuable work experience by working in challenging work environments. Positions include Smithsonian Explainers, tutoring, community outreach, social services and various others. Although, these positions do require the use of personal or public transportation they do pay a competitive hourly wage and offer flexible work hours to accommodate students’ school schedules.

Community Service

Organizations that serve the wider community, not just George Mason University, its students or staff, are considered community service employers. Off-campus community service jobs are can be with local non-profit, governmental and community based organizations that are designed to improve the quality of life for residents of the surrounding area. The federal share for community service positions is 75%. The remaining 25% must be covered by the organization. Off-campus organizations that participate as community service employers must have a current written agreement on file. Agreements must be renewed on a yearly basis, typically in June. As with campus jobs, a job description must be on file for all community service work-study positions.

Community Service positions aim to:

  • Provide students with real life experience outside of the classroom
  • Encourage students to consider careers in public service
  • Provide community service organizations the opportunity to extend the population they service
  •  Allow students the opportunity to gain professional work experience

Organizations interested in hiring students for community service must complete the Off-Campus Agreement. Organizations may begin hiring once the agreement and its positions have been approved by the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Students interested in open community service positions must apply to these positions via HireMason. Students hired for community service positions must follow all FWS guidelines as indicated in the Student Employment Guide. All employers must follow all guidelines in the supervisor guide. 

Finding a Federal Work-Study Job

Getting Started

Before applying for FWS positions students must verify that they have FWS awarded on their current award package.

If you are not awarded Federal Work-Study as part of your initial award package but would like to be awarded you should contact the Federal Work-Study Coordinator, Lady Ramirez, with your name and student ID number. If you are subsequently awarded a Federal Work-Study award, you will receive a revised Award Notification, followed by the Federal Work-Study Procedures email.

Federal work-study positions are located on HireMason, Mason’s online job and internship database. To log in please visit and select Student/Alumni; you will use your Patriot Pass credentials to log in. If you are unable to log into HireMason, please contact University Career Services at 703-993-2370. Please be prepared to provide your G# and Mason email address.

Your HireMason Profile

First time students logging into HireMason must complete their HireMason Profile, upload their resume and Job Availability form which will be approved by University Career Services. Once submitted, it can take up to three business days for approval.

Returning students do not have to be reapproved, any updates to their resume or additional resumes will be automatically approved.

For information on how to create a resume and resume templates please visit,

For a How-to-Guide on uploading resumes and finding FWS positions please visit,

Searching for Jobs

Once approved, log on to HireMason. On the lower right hand corner you will see a link to “Federal Work-Study Positions,” this link will take you directly to all posted FWS positions. To select a job click on the job title.

Read through all the information carefully. Before applying to a job, take into account your skills, availability, and transportation requirements. Apply directly to each position in which you are interested by clicking the “Submit Resume” button located at the top of each job description. Each job will specify under the “Document Categories” section whether additional documents, such as references, cover letters, and writing samples, are necessary.

Jobs both on and off campus are competitive. Make sure to apply to a variety of jobs. Check back periodically — at least once a week — to see what newly posted positions are available.

After You Apply

Once applied it can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks from the job closing date for a response from the supervisor. If contacted by the prospective employer, follow procedures instructed by them in order to interview for the position. Please note that employers have different policies on following up with applicants. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the employer with questions regarding their application status.

The Interview

If selected for an interview, it is essential to note the following:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Name of the person you will be meeting with
  • Any documents asked for by interviewer; resume, cover letter, Student Employment Verification form, job availability form etc.
  • Contact name and phone number in case you are unable to attend the scheduled interview

During the interview, the student and the employer will discuss job duties, days and hours needed to work, and what is expect of the hire. After the interview it will take a few days for the employer to determine their decision and will notify the candidates when a selection has been made.

For assistance with interviewing please visit,

Job Offer

Although students can apply to as many jobs as they which, they may only accept one job offer. If a student is offered multiple positions it is up to the student to determine the right choice for them in a timely matter. They should also rescind any pending applications.

Once the student has accepted the job offer, the employer will give you further information regarding your first day of work and necessary documents needed to complete the new hire paperwork.

What Forms Will I Need to Provide

Student Resources

Pay Sheet Tracker: It is the responsibility of the student to keep track of their own hours worked to insure overage does not occur, the Pay Sheet Tracker is designed to assist students with keeping track of their FWS award. Please consult the supervisor for your FWS job for information on tracking your hours and submission of your timesheet.

Student Employment Verification Form: This form must be picked up at the Office of Student Financial Aid's front desk.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I decline my Federal Work-Study award, do I have to repay this amount to the university?

NO! FWS is an award to participate in an employment program where the funds are earned through work. The amount is not subtracted from your tuition bill and therefore will not need to be repaid if you choose not to participate.

Should I notify the Office of Student Financial Aid if I decide to decline my Federal Work-Study award?

YES! If you did not initially accept your FWS award on your award notification, but wish not to participate, please notify the OSFA in writing so that the funding can be given to someone who wishes to participate.

How much can I earn?

Your FWS salary will be at least the current federal minimum wage, but it may be higher, depending on the type of work you do and the skills required. You total FWS award depends on when you apply, your level of financial need, and the amount of FWS funds available. The amount you earn cannot exceed your total FWS award.

Can I work as many hours as I want?

NO. When assigning work hours, your employer will consider your class schedule, your academic progress, your total award, and the needs of the employer. You will be allowed to work up to 15 hours per week while classes are in session, and up to 20 hours during breaks.

How will I be paid?

Students receive an hourly wage set by the employer (at least minimum wage). Schedules are determined by the student and the employer and timesheets are maintained through the department and are submitted to the payroll department twice a month. Per University policy all employees will be paid by direct deposit. Off-Campus students will be paid by their employer not the university.

Will my FWS award count as a credit against the charges on my bill?

NO. Because the work-study award represents money to be earned, it is not considered a credit against pending charges and will not show as a credit on your bill.

What happens if my earnings reach my maximum award?

You are responsible for ensuring that you do not earn more than your FWS award total. Your department may notify you that you are approaching your limit, but you should monitor your total hours worked and total gross earnings. The department has the option of either continuing your assignment and paying 100% from their departmental budget or ending your assignment altogether.

Are Federal Work-Study wages considered taxable income?

YES. Federal Work-Study wages are taxable income. It is in your best interest to file a federal tax return with the IRS by April 15th. You will receive W-2 forms from GMU for your work-study earnings in January.

How are Federal Work-Study wages considered when I apply for financial aid the following year?

Federal Work-Study wages are excluded from consideration in the determination of your expected family contribution. The exclusion is effected by including the gross amount of your FWS wages on Worksheet C of the FAFSA. Your FWS are reported as part of your AGI and income from work on the FAFSA.

Information for Employers

About the Federal Work-Study Program

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a federally subsidized program which provides part-time employment opportunities to eligible students to help meet the costs of postsecondary education. Based on results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), eligible students are awarded an allotment which may be earned through part-time employment in FWS approved positions either on or off-campus.

FWS funds provides qualifying on and off-campus organizations the ability to hire GMU students at minimal cost.

While initially all employers are charged 100% of wages, reimbursement is federally subsidized at 75% for a FWS student’s wage, while departments and off-campus organizations must cover the remaining 25%.

Types of Jobs


Most departments on-campus are able to hire Federal Work-Study students on all three of GMU’s campuses. Positions include office support staff, research positions, laboratory support, tutoring, athletic and various other positions can be offered to students by departments.

The Federal Work-Study program will subside 75% of a student’s wage while the department covers the remaining 25%. In order to participate in the FWS program please verify that your unit has been offered FWS funding for the current fiscal year. If you are unsure as to whether your department has a FWS fund please contact your unit’s fiscal liaison or your department/school/college’s fiscal director.


GMU works with various off-campus non-profit and community service organizations. These organizations provide unique work experiences for students by allowing students to work closely with the Fairfax community and surrounding areas. At the moment GMU only offers partnership opportunities to non-profits, schools and government agencies.

Posting a Position

Before requesting a position to be posted please read the Supervisor guide.

  • Your unit must have FWS Funds before posting a position.
  • All FWS jobs must be posted on HireMason by the FWS Coordinator, sorry no exceptions. Any FWS position posted by a department will be removed from HireMason by University Career Services.
  • To post a position please complete the On-Campus Position Description Form, and return to the FWS Coordinator for posting.
  • Forms are typically posted within 3 business days, during periods of high volume it may take up to 5 business days. After the position is poste it usually takes about 2 business days for it to go “live,” which is when students can begin to apply.