Frequently Asked Questions
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 the Department of Student Financial Assistance. To receive FWS funds, you must obtain a FWS job and be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours for undergraduate students and 4.5 credit hours for graduate students). Your FWS funds will be provided to you via your WKU debit 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 Current Vacancies page. Students interview and are hired by prospective employers.
WKU has a large student employment program. At WKU, we have a student workforce of over 1,800 whose combined earnings total nearly 8 million dollars each academic year. WKU does not offer placement services, you are responsible for finding and securing your own student employment position. The Department of Student Financial Assistance maintains a job posting on our Current Vacancies page. For more information concerning student employment, check out the Student Employment site.
Unlike other forms of financial aid, Work-Study money is not disbursed in a lump sum at the beginning of the semester. Work-Study earnings are paid every two weeks via the student's payroll preference, 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 charges, but rather are paid directly to the student. Pay rates are at least the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
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.
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 email resumes, and other times you may need to apply in person. If there aren’t specific instructions, just call the contact person.
Receipt of Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds is dependent on receiving a job that pays with FWS money.
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 undergraduate student who is enrolled in at least 6 credit hours (4.5 credit hours 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.
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.
The FAFSA is required to determine whether a student has federal need. However, students typically do not have to be need-based in order to work on-campus.
The Federal Work-Study estimate is an estimate only of wages that can be earned by the student. It does not apply towards tuition and other charges. First, the student has to secure employment by applying for jobs on-campus. Then, if hired, the student will receive payment via paycheck every two weeks.
Tax Forms are located in the Student Employment Office for U.S. Citizens and in the Human Resource Office for International Students. The tax withholding forms determine how much is withheld from the student’s check in taxes. Parents and/or tax preparers are good resources for help.
A student will be cleared to work as soon as all necessary paperwork has been completed with the Student Employment Office. When there are no outstanding student employment requirements, the student will then be placed on payroll (Web Time Entry, WTE) which can be viewed by the employing department on TopNet.
Students are notified via email of all missing information.
Students can notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request that the background check email be re-sent. We strongly encourage students to check their junk/spam folders before making this request.
We require 72 hours to complete and fax the form to the requesting agency. In most situations, the turnaround is less than 72 hours.