How to hire a student through Federal Work-Study

What is Federal Work-study?

Am I an eligible off-campus employer?

What are Federal Work-Study positions?

What are the benefits?

How do I get approved as an off-campus employer?

Who hires the student?

Who pays the student?

Financial Assistance

Employment Guidelines and Off-Campus Employer Handbook

Contact us

Dates and Deadlines

What is Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a federally funded financial aid program, which enables eligible undergraduate and graduate MIT students be paid to apply their unique skills, talents and interests to help address complex social and environmental challenges, especially those relating to poverty and inequality.

Off-campus work-study positions are:

  • At a federal, state or local public agency or private nonprofit organization that qualifies as off-campus employer;
  • Subsidized by MIT through federal funds: the off-campus employer pays a portion of the student wages, usually 25%;
  • Part-time year-round or full-time during non-class periods;
  • Anywhere in the U.S. (including U.S. territories);
  • In the public interest.

If you would like to add a student worker to your staff, please contact the Community Employment Administrator.


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Am I an eligible off-campus employer?

Federal, state, or local public agencies and private nonprofit organizations qualify as off-campus employers, if the position offered to MIT students:

  • Performs meaningful and constructive service in agencies, institutions, and situations where the application of human talent and dedication may help meet human, educational, linguistic, and environmental community needs, especially those relating to poverty;
  • Is in the public interest, for the welfare of the nation or community rather than for a particular interest or group.

Work is not “in the public interest” if it:

  • primarily benefits the members of an organization that has membership limits, such as a credit union, a fraternal or religious order, or a cooperative;
  • involves any partisan or nonpartisan political activity or is associated with a faction in an election for public or party office;
  • is for an elected official unless the official is responsible for the regular administration of federal, state, or local government;
  • is work as a political aide for any elected official;
  • takes into account political support or party affiliation when hiring; or
  • involves lobbying on the federal, state, or local level.

For more information on Federal Work-Study eligibility please refer to the Off-Campus Employer Handbook.

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What are Federal Work-Study positions?

Off-campus work-study jobs are developed by community partners, in collaboration with the PKG Center or MIT students, to provide tangible community benefits or build the nonprofit agency’s capacity. They offer MIT students real-world experience, professional and personal development, career exploration and leadership opportunities.

Work-study positions do not necessarily entail “direct service”. They are designed to improve the quality of life for the community (particularly low-income individuals) and the environment, focusing on:

  • Health care, child care, literacy training, education (including tutoring), welfare, social services, transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement, public safety, crime prevention and control, recreation, rural development, community improvement, and emergency preparedness and response;
  • Support services for students with disabilities (including students with disabilities who are enrolled at MIT); and
  • Activities in which an MIT student serves as a mentor for such purposes as tutoring, supporting educational and recreational activities, and counseling, including career counseling.

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What are the benefits?

Work-study positions are a great opportunity to advance your mission and develop your internal capacity by leveraging MIT students’ unique skills, talents, creativity and curiosity. Other benefits include:

  • Ad-hoc positions: Off-campus employers identify needs and develop ad-hoc job descriptions, with the assistance of the PKG Center.
  • Subsidized student compensation (75% federal funding / 25% agency’s funding):  MIT pays all student wages from our payroll system, then in turn invoices each off-campus employer for the 25% share (plus payroll taxes when applicable) at the end of each term.
  • No payroll-related stress! MIT is the official employer to lessen your agency’s administrative burdens and costs as much as possible. Students in work-study positions are on MIT payroll.
  • Ongoing support: A dedicated PKG Center’s staff supports all off-campus employers with any administrative, financial and student-related issues. We provide orientation and written materials for the student supervisors, including guidelines for high-quality supervision. Students are also provided an individual development plan. Our staff visits host agencies once per semester, regularly measures impact and asks for their input on the final evaluation.
  • Collaboration with the PKG Center & MIT: We strive to build trusting and open relationships, and collaborate ethically and effectively with our community partners. We share other MIT resources when possible, and offer opportunities for engagement with other PKG Center’s and MIT’s programs and efforts.
  • Job marketing/promotion: The PKG Center uses multiple methods to market off-campus work-study positions to all eligible students, including newsletters, flyers, info sessions etc.
  • Student preparation: MIT students in work-study positions attend a detailed orientation with the PKG Center and receive a Student Handbook for reference. Students may be required to attend some training to prepare for ethical and effective public service and collaboration with community partners, and they are offered ongoing reflection opportunities.

Our students bring to your agency:

  • A diversity of background, perspectives, skills;
  • Specific expertise;
  • Access to fellow students and the broader MIT community;
  • The opportunity to coach and nurture tomorrow’s leaders!

Can you find more benefits that you would like to see listed here? Let us know!

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How do I get approved as an off-campus employer?

Only authorized off-campus employers can offer work-study jobs to our students. To receive this authorization, you must:

  1. Contact the PKG Center to discuss your idea, and make sure that both your agency and the position you have in mind meet the federal guidelines and the definition of community service;
  2. Provide proof of nonprofit or tax-exempt status; and
  3. Sign an Off-Campus Employer Agreement with the PKG Center.

Completing these preliminary steps may take from few days to several months, depending on your agency's internal protocols. The PKG Center does not take responsibility for the length of time required to get approved. We recommend requesting authorization at least twelve (12) weeks in advance before the desired start date of the work-study position you have in mind.

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Who hires the student?

Once your organization has been authorized as off-campus employer, you must complete a Job Description for any position you wish to offer to our students.

If the Job Description is approved, you will be able to:

  1. Request to hire a selected candidate, or
  2. Post the position on the MIT Student Job Board.

Authorized off-campus employers are responsible for posting approved jobs on the Student Job Board. We recommend posting the position 8-12 weeks before desired start date.

Posted jobs will be listed as “Federal Work-Study Required” or “Federal Work-Study Preferred”, according to your preference.

The PKG Center does not screen applications or place students! Once the position is posted on the job board, we promote it to students using different channels, and interested students apply directly to the off-campus employer.

When a candidate is identified, the off-campus employer must inform the PKG Center in order to confirm the student’s FWS eligibility and request the student’s hire. Although the student will be working with your agency, they will be hired and paid by MIT.

Students cannot begin working until their hiring process at MIT is completed. Off-campus employers will pay the student’s full wage for any hours worked prior to PKG Center's official hiring confirmation email!

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Who pays the student?

MIT hires and pays students their full wages, on a weekly basis, on behalf of the off-campus employer. Students are paid for the number of hours approved by the off-campus supervisor and submitted to the PKG Center every week. Minimum hourly wage for work-study positions is $11.50. Below is the recommended MIT work-study wage scale:



undergraduate enrollment


graduate enrollment











Off-campus employers reimburse MIT for 25% of the student’s wages, with the exception of positions such as:

  • reading tutor for preschool-age through elementary school-age children;
  • mathematics tutor for children in elementary school through ninth grade; or
  • performing family literacy activities in a family literacy project that provides services to families with preschool-age children or children who are in elementary school.

Off-campus employers hiring less-than-half-time students at any time or undergraduate students during the summer are also charged payroll taxes (8% of student’s wages as of Jan 2018).

Invoices are sent to each off-campus employer at the end of each term during which a student has worked.

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Financial Assistance

Off-campus employers that wish to hire an MIT student in a work-study position, but cannot afford to pay the standard 25% share of student compensation, may apply for financial assistance from the PKG Center. Financial assistance is limited to positions/projects that support capacity-building efforts.

To apply, please complete the online Financial Assistance Application form and email the following documents to

  1. Proof of nonprofit or tax-exempt status.
  2. A copy of the first two pages of the agency's last 990 tax return.
  3. A letter, on the agency's letterhead, containing the following statements:
    •   “MIT does not own, operate or control (name of agency)
    •  “(name of agency) cannot afford the non-federal share of the student's earnings and would like to request a reduction, for the reasons explained in the Financial Assistance application form.”

Financial Assistance Application deadlines are listed in the Off-Campus Employer Handbook.

As financial assistance is limited, off-campus employers are strongly encouraged to make some financial contribution toward the standard 25% share of student compensation, and are only eligible for one-time (and one-student) assistance.

Employment Guidelines and Off-Campus Employer Handbook

Off-campus employers are expected to:

  1. Read the Off-Campus Employer Handbook and comply with the employment guidelines listed in the document;
  2. Post the approved work-study position on the MIT Student Job Board, when applicable;
  3. Select applicants and inform the PKG Center once a final candidate is identified;
  4. Provide appropriate orientation, training and ongoing support and supervision to each student in work-study positions;
  5. Identify a student supervisor who will comply with the Supervisor’s Responsibilities listed in the Off-Campus Employer Handbook;
  6. Arrange a site visit per semester with the PKG Center;
  7. Complete a Final Evaluation survey;
  8. Reimburse MIT for the standard portion of the student’s wages unless otherwise agreed, in writing, with the PKG Center.

Failure to complete these mandatory requirements can lead to termination of the Federal Work-Study agreement with the PKG Center.

In addition to basic information on Federal Work-Study definitions and requirements, the Off-Campus Employer Handbook lists your rights and responsibilities, provides useful contacts and resources, and outlines key employment guidelines such as period of employment, levels of responsibility and pay rates, student support and development, working hours and breaks, time sheets, earning limits, paychecks, attendance.

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Contact us

Office: Building W20-549
Phone: (617) 253-8065

2018 Dates and Deadlines










Max Hours per Week

20 (class periods); 40 (non-class periods) 20 40 20 40

Financial Assistance application deadline

Aug 25
Aug 25


Nov 9
Dec 22
Apr 6

Recommended posting

Jul 31-Sept 29
Jul 31-Sep 1
Oct 10 - Nov 17
Dec 1-Dec 29
Feb 5 - May 14

Student Application


2 weeks before start date for approved positions
8 weeks before start date for student-initiated positions
2 weeks before start date for approved FWS positions
8 weeks before start date for student-initiated positions
Nov 9 student-initiated positions
Dec 8 approved FWS positions
2 weeks before start date for approved positions
8 weeks before start date for student-initiated positions
2 weeks before start date for approved positions
8 weeks before start date for student-initiated positions

Term Start/End Dates

Sept 5 - May 25
Sept 5 - Dec 22 (can be extended to Jan 7)
Jan 8 - Feb 4 (can be anticipated to Jan 3)
Feb 5 - May 25
May 26 (students
continuing from the
spring) or Jun 11 (all other students) - Aug 21 (can be extended to Sept 2)