Limitations on Earnings

All students who are awarded Federal Work-Study (FWS) have a maximum amount of money they can earn under the FWS program, or an “earnings ceiling.” The student can find his/her earnings ceiling on the Financial Aid award letter. The student is not guaranteed to earn this amount, nor are they required to earn it. However, no student may earn more than the amount of Work-Study he/she was awarded without permission from the NEC Financial Aid Office.

While students are responsible for monitoring their own Work-Study earnings, the Financial Aid Office also keeps records of accumulated earnings. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you want to confirm your total earnings to date.

The Financial Aid Office will make every attempt to raise the Work-Study award if a student nears the ceiling, as long as there is room in the student’s financial aid package and there enough is money in the fund. However, it may not be possible to do this in all cases.

If a student has exhausted his Work-Study award and the ceiling cannot be raised, the student can be paid out of Student Aide funds, as long as the employing department allows it

Terms of Compensation

Work-Study students are paid on an hourly basis only, and cannot be compensated under a stipend, salary, commission, or fee arrangement. They cannot receive benefits such as paid sick leave, vacation pay, holiday pay, or compensation for any time away from the job due to illness or serving on a jury.


Under United States law, Work-Study earnings are taxable income. FICA/Medicare taxes are not typically withheld from checks issued during the school year unless withholding is specifically requested by the student on his/her W-4 form. However, during the summer months and other various vacation periods, FICA/Medicare is required to be withheld. Please read the W-4 form carefully when filing as this will determine your tax withholding. Unless you claim "exempt" status, state and federal income tax will be deducted from your paycheck.

FWS and the FAFSA

Because FWS is Financial Aid, it cannot be counted as a resource in more than one award period. FWS is always counted as a resource for the academic period for which it was awarded. A student must report his/her FWS earnings as "Student's income earned from working" on FAFSA Question 39. However, he/she may then report these earnings in Question 46c ("Taxable earnings from need-based employment programs"); the FAFSA formula will treat these earnings as an exclusion from income when calculating the student's need for the following academic year.

Required Number of Hours Per Week

The minimum number of hours required per week is set by the hiring department. This information should be clarified during the interview process. Students may not work more than a total (all jobs combined) of 20 hours per week during the school year, or 40 hours per week when classes are not in session.

Graduation, Leaves of Absence, and Less-than-Half-Time Status

All students cease to be eligible for student employment at NEC once they are no longer enrolled. This includes students who have graduated, have taken a leave of absence, or have been approved for inactive status. Students who have changed to less than half-time status are eligible to work in the student employment program, but are ineligible to be paid from FWS funds. These students must make arrangements with their hiring departments to be switched from FWS to Student Aide.