Work-Study: Off-Campus Employers

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program is designed to promote part-time employment for students who qualify for help in financing their education. The Federal Work-Study Office provides a wide range of student career opportunities while supporting departmental needs within the University and community.

The Federal Work-Study Program is a federally funded program subject to strict regulations and an annual audit. We rely on each agency to complete its portion of the process within the specified time frames to ensure payment is made to all students on time.

Off-Campus Employer Prerequisites

Off-campus agencies may qualify as FWS employers if they are federal, state, municipal, or private not-for profit organizations, they are willing to contribute 40% of the student’s salary, and the employment opportunity they offer meets the requisites listed below.Private not-for-profit organizations must submit a copy of the 501C-3 Letter from the IRS (Tax Exemption Letter).The work to be performed by the student under the Off-Campus Federal Work-Study Program must be work in the public interest, which:

  • will not result in the displacement of employed workers or impair existing contracts for services
  • will be governed by such condition of employment, including compensation, as will be appropriate and reasonable in light of such factors as type of work performed, geographical region, and proficiency of the employee
  • does not involve the construction, operation or maintenance of any part of a facility that is used, or will be used for sectarian instruction or as a place for religious worship
  • does not involve any partisan or nonpartisan political activity associated with a candidate, or contending faction or group, in an election for public or party office

Work in the public interest is considered work that benefits the community or the public in general. Work that benefits an individual or a particular interest group is not permitted.

Work will not be considered to be in the public interest if:

  • it is work for which the political support, affiliation, or affinity of the student is a pre-requisite or consideration for employment
  • it is work to be performed for an elected official other than as part of the regular administration of federal, state, or local government
  • it is work for a membership agency (such as a credit union, a fraternal order, or a cooperative) which is primarily for the benefit of the members of such organizations rather than the public

Furthermore, off-campus employment may not involve lobbying on the federal level, or work for the U.S. Department of Education.

Off-campus organizations may participate as FWS employers if they are given a FWS allocation during the University budget process. This allocation represents the 100% dollar amount assigned to the agency and the total amount students working in the agency may earn.

A FWS university account will be charged the 100% share of students’ wages. Columbia University’s Office of the Controller will then bill the agency for the employer’s share of students’ wages. For further information regarding the budget process, please contact the Federal Work-Study Office.

Required Forms for Off-Campus Employers

Once the off-campus employer has been given a FWS allocation, the Federal Work-Study Office will provide the agency with the following forms:

  • The Federal Work-Study Agreement outlines the requirements of the Federal Work-Study program
  • The Organization Description requests general information and functions of the agency

All forms should be completed, signed and returned to the Federal Work-Study Office.

Once complete, the Federal Work-Study Office will create an account in the online system for the new employer.  The employer will be required to complete an online job listing which outlines information about the position, including a job description for the student.

Work-Study Guidelines
  • Both the employer and the student should monitor the student’s FWS award. Students may not be paid from FWS funds beyond their FWS award.

  • Students may not be paid from FWS funds beyond the employer’s allocation.

  • Students may not work during their own scheduled class hours.

  • Students may work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (including Spring Break), except as noted on the pay schedule, and 35 hours per week during the eligible winter and summer break.

  • Students may be paid a minimum of $9.00/hour and a maximum of $16.00/hour depending on the job title and job classification assigned by the employer.

  • Students may not work more than 6 consecutive hours without taking an unpaid half-hour break. Since it is the University’s responsibility to ensure that this regulation is met, employers should carefully review timesheets. Should a timesheet be submitted for more than 6 consecutive hours of work, the break will be deducted from the total number of hours submitted for payment.

  • FWS pay periods are bi-weekly and timesheets should be submitted in agreement with that schedule. In accordance with federal regulations, students must be paid within four weeks of work performed.

  • Students can only submit late timesheets for the past four weeks, not including the current pay period. The employer will be required to pay late timesheets on their own payroll. In all cases, FWS earnings must be paid in the award year in which they were earned.

  • Students who work off campus and do not have Direct Deposit can pick up their checks at the Work-Study Office located in 210 Kent Hall.

  • An employer should assign a full-time employee to supervise, monitor students’ allocations and hours worked, and to review and approve timesheets.

  • FWS students are not eligible for fringe benefits such as paid breaks, paid sick days, paid vacation days, paid holidays, or unemployment benefits.

  • FWS earnings are fully taxable. The University issues a W-2 to the student at the end of the calendar year that reflects all University earnings for that year.

  • If a student becomes ineligible for payment under the FWS program (the student withdrew, already earned his/her FWS award, worked more than the hours allowed), the employer will be responsible for 100% of the student’s wages.

Hiring a Work-Study Student: Off-Campus Employers

Students must confirm their Federal Work-Study eligibility prior to applying for a job. A student’s award is determined by the student’s financial aid office. This award will be reflected on the student’s employment record within the FWS online system during the hiring process. Employers may hire a student that applies online through the FWS system or a walk-in student, through the Managing Jobs section of the online system.

Students may not begin working through Columbia University’s Federal Work-Study Program until the employer receives confirmation that the student's hiring request has been approved by the Federal Work-Study Office. The employer will be required to pay 100% of any wages earned by a student if the student begins working before the date the hire is approved.

When hiring a student, an employer should take into consideration the employer's allocation and the student’s award. Students may not perform work on any project in excess of their Federal Work Study award. If a student’s eligibility is earned before the end of a term or summer program the student must be removed from the FWS payroll.

Required Forms for Employers

The following forms are required to be submitted to the Federal Work-Study Office from an off-campus employer before a student can be hired or confirmed into a position:

  • Federal Work-Study Agreement
  • Organization Description
  • Online Job Description
  • 501C-3 Letter (Tax Exemption Letter) from the IRS

Required Forms for Students

All required forms must be completed after the student has been hired into a position and must be submitted to the Work-Study office before a student may start working. These forms are required if the student has not been paid by Columbia University in the last 3 years, or if the student wishes to make any changes to previously-filed information.

The following forms must also be submitted if the student is a new employee, has not been paid by Columbia University in the past 3 years, or wishes to make changes to any previously filed information:

One (1) of the three (3) New York State forms below. Explanations of who should fill out each form are available on the forms themselves.

All required forms must be submitted to the Federal Work-Study Office after the student has been hired into a position and before a student may begin working.


FWS online timesheets are the primary payroll document.  Both the student and supervisor are urged to ensure proper completion before submiting timesheets for approval. Each student has to complete a timesheet that must be approved by the supervisor for each pay period worked. 

Completing a FWS Timesheet

  • Timesheets can only be used for the specified two-week pay period. 
  • Both students and supervisors must make sure that all hours worked within a pay period are submitted at the end of that pay period. Once the timesheet has been “Finalized”/paid, the Office of Work-Study will not be able to go back and add hours to the timesheet.
  • Timesheets without supervisor’s approval cannot be processed.  Supervisors will be notified of any outstanding timesheets awaiting approval.
  • Payment is made for full hours or half-hours only.  (Remember that the timesheet must reflect at least a half-hour break after six consecutive hours worked.)


Monitoring Federal Work-Study Earnings

A Student’s FWS Award

An earnings limit is established by the student’s financial aid office. The student and the employer are responsible for monitoring the student’s earnings. The FWS Office will assist in this process by providing bi-weekly reports for both the employer and the financial aid office that show each student’s cumulative earnings. Please share these reports with your student employees.

Students can also monitor their earnings and award balance here and in the My Timesheets section of the FWS online system.

Once the student’s FWS award limit is reached, the student will not be paid through FWS unless the the award is increased by the financial aid office before the pay period deadline.

An Employer's FWS Allocation

Employers will receive a letter stating the FWS allocation for the year granted by the Provost's Office. To monitor the amount of money available throughout the year, deduct gross earnings that are authorized on the FWS timesheets from the allocation.

Students may only be paid through FWS if the employer and the student have not exceeded their  allocation/award.


Program Dates

FWS Employment Dates & Maximum Number Of Hours

Students may work and be paid through FWS only during the following dates.

Summer Employment# of Hours

July 1, 2015 - September 6, 2015

35 per week
Academic Year Employment# of Hours
 September 7, 2015 - December 20, 201520 per week
 December 21, 2015 - January 17, 201635 per week
 January 18, 2016 - May 15, 201620 per week

University Holidays

A student may work on University Holidays. For these purposes, the official list of University holidays is that provided by Columbia University Human Resources.


Making Changes: Off-Campus Employers

Changes in a Student’s Hourly Rate

To change an employee’s hourly salary rate, a memo should be sent to the FWS Office at least three days prior to the effective date. This memo should be on the employer’s letterhead with the student’s name and new rate. There are no retroactive rate changes.

Student Transfers

Students may change from one job to another. In order to transfer to another job, the original employer must remove the student from the position. The new employer should then hire the student through the standard job application process online.

Removing a Student From the FWS Payroll

When a student has stopped working for an employer and it is decided that he/she should be removed from the FWS payroll, the employer should write a memo to the FWS Office. Occasionally, there are more serious reasons for removing a student from a department’s payroll. Serious dissatisfaction with a student’s performance should be discussed with the FWS Office.


Online System User Guide

Using the online Work-Study system, employers can post jobs, review applications, complete the hiring process, and manage timesheets. This section provides basic instructions on how to use these functions.
Help can be accessed within the online system by clicking the help icons Help Icon or emailing questions to [email protected].

Request Log In Permission

Each individual employer must have an account and password to access the Work-Study system. To request log in permission:

1. Go to Work Study Homepage.

2. Select "Request Log In" below Announcements.

Request Log In

Log In

In order to access employer functions of the website, you must log in.

1. Go to Work Study Homepage.

Log In

2. On Campus Employers choose On-Campus Employers Log-In from the log in section.

3. Enter your UNI and password, then click log in.

4. Off-Campus Employers choose Off-Campus Employers Log-In from the log in section.

5. Enter your Email Address and Password, then click Log in.

Enter Email Address

Once you have logged in, you will not have to again unless you close your browser window, log out or are idle for over 20 minutes.

Job Control Panel

Once you have logged in, you are on the Job Control Panel. On this page you can perform nearly all tasks related to your Work-Study jobs.

Job Control Panel

Filter Employers

If you are assigned to more than one employer, use the Filter Employers drop-down menu to select the employer you’d like to view. If you are assigned to only one employer, the name of that employer will already be displayed.

Filter Employers

Manage Job

Manage Job displays the job's details.

A job's status is defined four ways:

Manage Job

  1. Listed – Approved by the Work-Study office and currently posted. Students may search and apply for jobs in this status. Any change made to the job must be submitted for approval.
  2. Pending Approval – Submitted for approval to the Work-Study Office. Primary and secondary contacts will be notified once a job is approved and the status is changed to Listed.
  3. Review Mode – Not publicly listed on the web, students may no longer apply for a job in this status. Applications submitted are still available for review and hiring an applicant is possible. Review mode is used once you are satisfied with applications received, you are rehiring someone or you are hiring a walk-in candidate. Jobs in Review may be re-posted, but changes must be re-submitted for approval.
  4. Storage – All associated applications are deleted. Details of the job posting is saved. A job is typically moved into Storage after hiring is completed and the job is closed. A job in Storage may be re-posted with approval from the Work-Study office.

Posting a new job is a three-step process: 1) Create the job profile, 2) Review / Edit job application and 3) Submit job for approval and posting.

1. Create the job profile

From Job Control Panel, select "Add a new job for [Employer Name]."

  • If assigned to more than one employer, you must first select an employer from the Filter Employer pull-down menu and then the Add a job link will appear.
Complete the Job Profile.

Job Profile

  • Category – Pick a category that best describes the job. Students search by category.
  • Job Title – Give specific job title, e.g. “Research Assistant.” For helpful explanations of job descriptions, select Click here for a list of job descriptions.
  • Job Description – Describe the job and set expectations for the work.
  • For helpful explanations click the Click here link for a list of Work-Study job descriptions.
  • Job Requirements – List any skills that the student must have.
  • Number of Available Openings – Indicate number of openings available. This will decrease automatically as you hire students.
  • Hours per Week – Hours per week student is expected to work. Ranges acceptable.
  • Start/End Date/Time frame – Students also search by time frame.
  • Wage – Select a base wage range most appropriate to the job.
  • Primary Contact Person – Select yourself as the contact person unless posting for someone else. Primary contact manages job and receives emails from Work-Study office or students. If a primary contact is not listed in the drop-down menu, then s/he is not a registered user of the system and/or is not affiliated with current department/agency.
  • Secondary Contact Person - Other people in department whom students may contact with questions about the job. Secondary contacts also receive notification if a student applies to the job.
  • Phone/Fax/Email/Location - Enter information to be available to students. Collect online applications - the system is designed to take advantage of online applications. If you choose to not receive online applications, students will be instructed to contact you directly.

Click Submit. The Review Job Application page will load.

2. Review/Edit job application

Review the job application. When you are done, click Finished.

3. Submit job for approval and posting

  • The Go Live page is the final step in the job posting process. Answer the questions displayed about your job listing.
  • When to list job posting – (Immediately; Send to Storage) Immediately will post job once it is approved. Storage will save job listing after it is approved for posting at a later time.
  • Job Mail – (Yes; No) Students can sign up for JobMail and it automatically emails them when a job matching their interests is posted.
  • How many days – (Until I Close; XX Days) Depending on permission level, the job may be closed at your will or may be set to automatically close after a certain number of days. Maximum number of days is 60, unless extended by you or the Work-Study office.
  • Select finish when you are done. posting will be submitted for approval by the Work-Study Office. You will receive notification about its status by email.

Submit Job

The details of your job are accessible by selecting View Jobs Pending Approval from the Job Control Panel. If you need to change details of the job you have submitted before it is approved, you can do so by selecting Edit Job.

Timesheet To-Do Items

To manage timesheets, select Timesheet To-Do Items. All timesheets that require immediate attention will be displayed here.

Information will appear differently depending on the status of the timesheet and your permission level. For instance, when the timesheet is in the student’s possession the only information available will be the status and pay period details. Entries and action options will not appear.

Manage Time Sheet

If you supervise students in multiple departments, you can select a particular department from the drop-down menu at the top of the To-Do Items page. The page will reload and display that department’s timesheets. Make sure to check to-do items for all the departments that you manage.

Timesheet Categories

Timesheets will be displayed under five possible categories:

  1. Timesheets incomplete by supervisor – Timesheet started, but not completed by supervisor. Once a timesheet has been started, it cannot be edited by a student, so a supervisor must complete it. To do so, Go to Time Sheet.
  2. Timesheets returned by administrator – Timesheets reviewed by an administrator and returned to you. Notes will explain why the timesheet is returned; must be resolved before resubmitting to an administrator for approval. Select Review to edit or send back to the student.
  3. Resubmitted timesheets – These are timesheets revised and resubmitted by students for your approval. They must be approved by the deadline listed next to them. Click Review to do so.
  4. Delinquent timesheets – Timesheets may not have been started or submitted by students and the deadline has passed. Send an email reminder to the student or to take control of the time sheet through Review.
  5. Submitted timesheets awaiting review – Timesheets completed by students and submitted for review. They must be approved by the deadline listed. Select Review to do so. Carefully review the student’s time entries before you approve them.


Manage Timesheets

Only timesheets that apply to one of these five categories will be displayed on the To-Do Items page. For example, if there are no delinquent timesheets, that particular category will not display.


The system alerts you to particular situations through the use of warnings. Warnings will display at the top of the To-Do Items page. For example a warning will be displayed if a student has worked too many hours. If there is a warning next to the title, roll your mouse over it for instructions on how to resolve the warning.

Timesheets must be completed and submitted for the two weeks pay period when they are due. A student will not be able to go back and add a week or hours to a pay period that has already been finalized and paid.

Manage Delinquent Timesheets

There are two options to manage delinquent timesheets: 1) Email the student a reminder or 2) Revoke student access to the timesheet and take possession of timesheet to submit hours on behalf of student.

To access both functions, select Review next to the delinquent time sheet on the To-Do Items page. You can send an email reminder to the student by editing the subject and text of the message, then select Send Email.

To take possession of the timesheet, go to the Take Possession section at the bottom of the page. Indicate if you would like to notify the student via email that you have revoked access. You can revise text of the email in the message box. Once you select Take Possession, the timesheet will load and you can revise it as needed.

Delinquent Timesheets

Timesheet Control Panel

Timesheet Control Panel

On My Control Panel, you can access all jobs for which you are the primary or secondary supervisor. You can also access prior time sheets.

My Control Panel

View Time Sheet

  • Select Timesheet Control Panel.
  • Click Manage Job to change the title or description of the job.
  • Select View Hires and a list of your students for that job will open.
  • Select All time sheets to view a history of a student’s time sheets.

Download Online System User Guide (PDF)

View and download a printer-friendly version of the online system user guide.


Work-Study Wage Classification: Grades and Hourly Rate Ranges
Job ClassificationMinMax
Class I$9.00$11.00
Class II$11.25$12.50
Class III$12.75$14.50
Class IV$14.75$16.00
Class V$17.00$20.00 (subject to FWS approval)


For Questions Contact


Location: 210 Kent Hall
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 212.854.2392
Fax: 212.854.4777

Mailing Address:
210 Kent Hall, MC 9207 1140 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10027

Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday