Federal Work Study
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if I am eligible for Federal Work Study?
A: If you are unsure as to whether you are eligible for Federal Work Study, contact the financial aid office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I become eligible for Federal Work Study?
A: Federal Work Study is awarded to students on a yearly basis. If you have a Federal Work Study Award for 2023–2024, these funds can be used July 1, 2023–June 30, 2024. If you have a Federal Work Study Award for 2024–2025, these funds can be used July 1, 2024–June 30, 2025.
When you fill out your FAFSA (Free Application Federal Student Aid) through the Financial Aid Office, be sure to indicate that you would like Federal Work Study (FWS) if you would like to participate in the federal work study program. In addition, please note that FWS is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis by the financial aid office.
Q: If I have been granted a Federal Work Study Award, will I be able to earn the entire amount of the award I'm eligible for?
A: Due to the popularity of Federal Work Study, funds are limited. The demand to be paid with federal work study funds is far greater than the amount of federal work study money available; therefore, Community-Based Federal Work Study positions will be selectively approved. The criteria will include, but is not limited to employment experience and class year.
At this time, we are accepting applications for Community-Based Federal Work Study for fall 2024.
Q: How can I find out about FWS community-based positions?
A: A list of organizations approved for the federal work study program is available at the link above. You can find information about applying for these agencies by looking for job postings in Symplicity and reviewing agency websites.
Q: If I am already planning to volunteer in the spring, summer or fall with a community-based legal organization, and the organization is not on the list above, can I be paid for the work though Federal Work Study Funds?
A: If you are eligible for Federal Work Study, and the organization you are planning to work with is not on the list, please send an email to Michelle Vodenik indicating your interest. There is no guarantee that we will be able to arrange for a paid experience at any organization. The organization must be approved for federal work study by a compliance officer at Illinois Institute of Technology, and it is up to the organization to decide if they would like to participate in our Federal Work Study Program, but we can approach the organization and ask them if they will consider participating. You cannot be paid for any hours spent at an organization until the signed contract has been returned by that organization and you have been added to the Chicago-Kent payroll. There is a four-hour-a-week minimum requirement.
Q: Will all government agencies or nonprofit agencies be approved for Federal Work Study?
A: No, in order for an agency or organization to be approved, the work performed must improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income residents, or solve problems related to their needs. If you have questions about whether an agency has been approved or would qualify, please contact Michelle Vodenik.
Q: I am working at a government or legal aid agency outside of Chicago. Will this qualify for federal work study?
A: Yes, agencies outside of the Chicago area are eligible for federal work study funding. Please be sure to contact Michelle Vodenik as soon as possible to discuss an out-of-state arrangement. Students who work out of state, must present payroll documents to Chicago-Kent personnel in-person before heading out of state for the summer or semester.
Q: I am doing a judicial internship, is this experience eligible for Federal Work Study?
A: No, the work of a judicial intern does not qualify for Federal Work Study.
Q: Can I receive both externship credit and Federal Work Study funds for the same position?
A: No. You can not double-up, receiving both externship credit and federal work study funds for any of the same hours at a government agency or legal aid organization.
Q. Can I receive Federal Work Study funds in the summer after the completion of a legal externship (for credit) at a government or legal aid organization?
A. Yes, during the summer once you have completed all of the hours required for your externship for credit, you may be paid for additional hours with Federal Work Study funds. Michelle Vodenik will need verification that all of your externship hours have been completed before you can begin to be paid with federal work study funds. This is not an option during the fall and spring semesters.
Q. Can I receive Federal Work Study funds if I am also receiving funds from another source, i.e. a grant from the Kent Justice Foundation, Justice Stevens Fellowship, PILI funds, Equal Justice America funds, or other funds?
A. During the summer students are considered fully-funded once they reach $6000. If you will receive less than $6000 from other sources of funding for your legal aid or government work during the summer, then yes, you will be considered for federal work study funding in order to get you to $6000 in earnings in the summer. All sources of summer funding must be disclosed on the federal work study application; and if you receive additional sources of funding after turning in your application, you must promptly let Michelle Vodenik, the program administrator, know or you may withdraw your federal work study request.
Q: If I have been offered a FWS award, do I automatically have a job?
A: No. A FWS award simply means that you have the opportunity to seek employment and earn the amount you have been offered through the FWS program, if you are selected for a FWS position. You must interview for a job and be hired before any FWS funds can be earned. The ultimate decision to hire you is made by the hiring department of the off-campus agency, and not by the Financial Aid Office, the Career Services Office or the Administration and Finance Office.
Q: If I have been offered a FWS award, and I find a position at a community-based organization, will I automatically be approved to use my FWS award?
A: No. The federal government awards the university a set amount of federal work study funds for the entire school year. Unfortunately, the amount awarded by the federal government is not enough to cover all of the demand for students who would like to be paid for Community-Based FWS. Therefore, during the fall, spring, and summer terms, you must apply and be approved to be paid with FWS money for all community-based federal work study placements DURING EVERY TERM. Community-based placements include any positions with government or non-profit agencies outside of the law school.
Q. If I receive an internal position at the law school does that position have to be approved by the career services office?
A. No, internal positions at the law school, i.e., research assistant for a professor, work with the the Self-Help Resource Desk at the Daley Center, or within a department at the law school, do not have to be approved by the Career Services Office. Internal positions at the law school are posted in the Record, 12twenty, and/or available by speaking with departments, professors, or centers about their opportunities for students.
Q: How many hours may I work?
A: During the fall and spring semesters, students may be approved to work a maximum of 20 hours per week. During the summer, students may be approved to work a maximum of 40 hours per week. Students are limited to the amount of hours for which they have been approved, as well as the weeks for which they are approved. The minimum is four hours per week.
In addition, each student is allowed a set amount of potential FWS earnings each academic year. Students working in an FWS job are responsible for monitoring their own earnings under the FWS program. If a student works the maximum number of allowable hours each week, they may use up their work-study eligibility before the end of the year. Once all FWS money has been used, employment under FWS will be terminated. A student may then elect to continue with the agency in a volunteer capacity, with the agreement of the agency.
If you work during the summer, you should be aware that FWS earnings will begin to accrue against your annual allocation on July 1, meaning that money you earn after July 1 is charged against your upcoming fall/spring allocation. You must check with the Financial Aid Office to make sure you will be eligible for FWS funds for the upcoming academic year if you plan to work during the summer. In addition, you must be enrolled in classes for the Fall semester in order to receive FWS funds in the summer; and you must have no pending applications to transfer to another law school.
Q: Who pays me, and how much will I earn?
A: Chicago-Kent College of Law/Illinois Institute of Technology pays you. You are an employee of Chicago-Kent College of Law/Illinois Institute of Technology, and will be issued a W-2 at the end of each calendar year. Federal income tax will be withheld from your pay unless you meet IRS student tax-exempt status. Social Security will be withheld from your wages if you work more than 20 hours per week.
Students can't be paid for any hours worked with federal work study money until the agency or nonprofit organization where they are working has signed a contract with Chicago-Kent/Illinois Institute of Technology to become part of our federal work study program.
In addition, students can't be paid for any hours of work until they have submitted all required documents to the Office of Administration and Finance at Chicago-Kent, proving that they are eligible to work in the United States. Students who are approved to use their federal work study award should respond promptly to all inquiries to turn in the proper paperwork to the Office of Administration and Finance. Students should watch for an email from the Illinois Tech Student Employment Office indicating that they may start to receive payment for hours worked. When a student has been successfully added to payroll, a “work” tab will appear in the myIIT portal where hours can be entered online; and a corresponding hard copy of hours worked must also be submitted on-time every two weeks to the Office of Administration and Finance at Chicago-Kent.
Federal Work Study students are paid $15.80 an hour.
Q. How much money can I earn during the semester through federal work study?
A. The semester federal work study term is 14 weeks, and students can work up to 20 hours per week. Therefore, the maximum a student could earn during the semester is $4,424. You must have corresponding federal work study funds available to you through financial aid to be paid for those hours. Most students work approximately 12–16 hours per week, so students typically earn $2654–$3539.
Q. How much money can I earn during the summer through federal work study?
A. Summer federal work study is typically 12 weeks; broken up into Summer 1 (mid-May to the end of June) and Summer 2 (July 1 to the end of the second week of August).
2023: Summer 1 is nearly six weeks (May 22–June 30), and students can work up to 40 hours per week. Therefore the maximum a student could earn during Summer 1 is approximately $3696. You must have corresponding federal work study funds available to you for the 2022–2023 school year through financial aid to be paid for those hours.
2023: Summer 2 is six weeks (July 5–August 11), and students can work up to 40 hours per week. Therefore, the maximum a student could earn during Summer 2 is $3696. You must have corresponding federal work study funds available to you for the 2023–2024 school year through financial aid to be paid for those hours.
Q. Are funds available for the first half of summer 2024?
A. Funds are typically limited for the first half of summer 2024. Therefore, students who are working at government and legal aid organizations over the summer are strongly encouraged to become involved with, and seek funds for the summer through, the Kent Justice Foundation (KJF), the Chicago-Kent College of Law's public interest student organization. In addition, Chicago-Kent students can apply for the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Summer Fellowship, which awards a grant of $8000 to two or three students for their work or government or legal aid organizations in the summer, as well as through additional outside sources of outside funding, such as the Public Interest Law Initiative, Equal Justice America, PSJD, and other bar associations that might offer summer funding for students interning at legal aid and government agencies. All of those opportunities to apply for funding have deadlines associated with them, so be sure to watch for deadlines.
Q. Are funds available for the second half of summer 2024?
A. It is likely that funds WILL be available for the second half of summer 2024. The new financial aid fiscal year begins on July 1, and students who have a federal work study award for the 2024–2025 school year and intend to enroll in classes at Chicago-Kent during the fall of 2024 will most likely be able to apply to use their federal work study funds for the second half of the summer for up to 40 hours a week. In order to find funding for the first half of the summer, please review the suggestions regarding summer funding in the previous question.
Q: How often will I be paid?
A: FWS employees are paid every two weeks. You must submit a properly completed timesheet by the appropriate deadlines established by the Administration and Finance Office. Every two weeks your employer will also submit a timesheet to the Administration and Finance Office verifying that you have worked the hours that you have submitted. Failure to comply with payroll procedures will delay a student's paycheck for an entire pay period. Failure to submit completed timesheets by their due dates on multiple occasions may, in the discretion of Chicago-Kent, be grounds for termination from the FWS program.
Q: I have a federal work study award and I have a position at one of the agencies on the list, what do I do now?
A: To be approved to be paid in a Community-Based FWS position, you must fill out the federal work study request form and submit it to the Career Services Office. All requests will be reviewed, and community- based federal work study positions will be selectively awarded. The criteria will include, but is not limited to, employment experience and class year.
Q: If I do not receive a Federal Work Study offer and already have a position lined up at a government or legal aid organization, what are my options?
A. Students may be able to earn academic credit through the Access 2 Practice Legal Externship Program at Chicago-Kent. Contact Professor Vivien Gross or Suzanne Blaz for more information. There are deadlines associated with this program.
Students may also volunteer their time at government and legal aid organizations. If you do volunteer, be sure to record your volunteer hours through Chicago-Kent's Public Interest Center (PIC). Students who volunteer 50 hours receive Chicago-Kent's Certificate of Service, while students who complete at least 250 hours of volunteer service are eligible to receive the Dean's Distinguished Public Service Award.
Q: If I no longer need the federal work study funds offered to me, because I will not use them, what do I do?
A. If you would like to borrow the money that the financial aid office had offered you for federal work study, contact the financial aid office and let them know that you would like to decline your federal work study award. Once you have declined your award, you can then borrow the money as a student loan.
Q: What are my responsibilities, as a recipient of federal work study funds?
A. Toward the end of your federal work study term, you will be sent a survey about your experience working with that agency. You must fill out and return the survey about your experience to Michelle Vodenik in the career services office. The information will be used to evaluate the experiences students have working with the nonprofit and government agencies in the federal work study program and as a useful tool to guide students in the future who might have an interest in also going to those agencies. As part of the survey, you will be asked if you would be willing to discuss your experience with others. If you say “yes,” then your name and the name of the agency/organization where you worked may be shared with others. Aside from this exception, all information provided in the survey is kept confidential.
Q: What are my responsibilities to the agency where I will be working?
A: While your paycheck comes from the law school, you are responsible to treat your FWS opportunity as a job. Therefore, you should coordinate a work schedule with your supervisor and meet that schedule to the best of your ability. If you are unable to work, you are expected to notify your supervisor in advance. If you resign your position, you should give your employer a two week notice. You may be discharged by the agency for poor performance, misconduct, excessive absences, tardiness, or at will. You must let the FWS program coordinator know of any changes in your employment status.
Q: What responsibilities does the agency have to me?
A: The agencies agree to supervise in a reasonable manner the work performed by students and submit to the Office of Administration and Finance the appropriate payroll forms every two weeks.
If you are interested in the FWS Program, please email Michelle Vodenik, Director, Public Interest Center, at email@example.com.