How to get an off-campus work-study job


What is Federal Work-Study?

Am I eligible?

What are Federal Work-Study positions?

How can I apply for a position?

How can I use my Federal Work-Study award to fund a position of my choice?

What are the benefits?

Employment Guidelines and Student 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, for the welfare of the nation or community rather than for a particular interest or group.

Federal, state, or local public agencies and private nonprofit organizations qualify as off-campus employer, if the position offered enables students to perform 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.

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Am I eligible?

Your Federal Work-Study (FWS) eligibility is determined by the Student Financial Services office, based on your individual financial situation and eligibility for federal financial aid. Please note:

  • To qualify for FWS, you must submit a financial aid application for the current year.
  • Not all students with financial aid are FWS eligible. You may receive other types of financial aid, such as grants, scholarships, loans, etc.
  • International students do not qualify for FWS.

Contact the Community Employment Administrator or Student Financial Services to know your FWS eligibility.

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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, 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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How can I apply for a position?

Once your FWS eligibility is confirmed, you can apply for any “Federal Work-Study Required/Preferred” position listed on the MIT Student Job Board (use "federal" as a search word to find all eligible positions), following the instructions provided in each job listing.

Once you are offered a position that was listed as “Federal Work-Study Required/Preferred” on the MIT Student Job Board, you must submit an Employment Application at least two (2) weeks before desired start date.

The PKG Center will review and approve your application within three business days. To finalize your application, you will have to complete some paperwork and attend a mandatory orientation meeting with the PKG Center before you can be hired.

Although you will be working with an off-campus employer, you will be hired and paid by MIT. You cannot begin working until all paperwork has been completed and approved, your Student Hourly Appointment is created in MIT Payroll, and you receive the PKG Center's official hiring confirmation email. Be aware that you will not be paid by MIT for hours you worked prior to the official confirmation!

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How can I use my FWS award to fund a position of my choice?

If you qualify for Federal Work-Study (FWS), you can use your FWS award to subsidize an off-campus internship, community service, research project, or any other position at a nonprofit agency of your choice in the U.S., provided the agency and the position you have in mind qualify for FWS. Make sure to discuss the specific project or offer with the PKG Center to find out.

If you wish to use your FWS award to subsidize an off-campus position, you must submit a Job Funding Application at least eight (8) weeks before desired start date.

The PKG Center will review and approve your application within three business days, and contact the off-campus employer of your choice. They will have to agree to pay 25% of your compensation, and complete an application to be approved as off-campus employer. Keep in mind that completing this paperwork may take from few days to several months, depending on the agency's protocols. The PKG Center does not take responsibility for the length of time required by the agency to complete the application and get approved.  

Once the off-campus employer is approved, you will have to complete some paperwork and attend a mandatory orientation meeting with the PKG Center before you can be hired.

Although you will be working with an off-campus employer, you will be hired and paid by MIT. You cannot begin working until all paperwork has been completed and approved, your Student Hourly Appointment is created in MIT Payroll, and you receive the PKG Center's official hiring confirmation email. Be aware that you will not be paid by MIT for hours you worked prior to the official confirmation!

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What are the benefits?

Off-campus work-study positions are a great opportunity to leverage your unique skills, creativity and interests to advance social and environmental change efforts. They also offer:

  • Competitive and steady income: Work-study jobs pay more than on-campus jobs. You are hired and paid weekly by MIT, which reduces income uncertainty. Earning some or all your annual Federal Work-Study award also reduces the need of taking student loans.
  • Flexible time commitment: Minimum one hour per week over the semester, and up to forty hours per week over breaks and the summer. It's up to you!
  • Career development: You explore a career path or employment field. You build transferable skills and competence, professional references, and connections.
  • Personal development: You explore interests and values, ways of social and environmental change, make a difference, and have fun! You can also work along with other MIT students, make new friends and build community.
  • Research and academic advancement: You can work with off-campus employers related to your academic and research interests.
  • Real-life perspective: Off-campus work shifts the action from the classroom or lab to real-world complex challenges.
  • Leadership: You decide the level of commitment and responsibilities you want to take on. If you have a specific idea or interest, talk to us! We will help you develop your own project.
  • Ongoing support: A dedicated PKG Center’s staff and an off-campus supervisor will support you along the way.

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

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Employment Guidelines and Student Handbook

MIT students in Federal Work-Study positions are expected to:

  1. Read the Student Handbook before they start their employment period;
  2. Complete Student Reflection activities by the end of their employment period;
  3. Complete a Final Evaluation survey at the end of each employment term;
  4. Attend at a Mid-Semester Work-Study Dinner.

In addition to basic information on Federal Work-Study definitions and requirements, the Student Handbook lists student 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

Email: studentworker@mit.edu
Office: Building W20-549
Phone: (617) 253-8065


Dates and deadlines

Priority will be given to students applying for work-study positions:

  • Two (2) weeks before desired start date for positions listed as “Federal Work-Study Required/Preferred” on the Student Job Board;
  • Eight (8) weeks before desired start date for student-initiated positions.

Student Workshops

Summer Work-Study Workshops
When: Mon, Apr 9, 12pm - Thu, Apr 12, 4pm - Fri, Apr 13; 3pm
Where: Room W20-555
RSVP: studentworker@mit.edu