How to hire a work-study student

What is Federal Work-study?

Am I an eligible off-campus agency?

What are Federal Work-Study positions?

What are the benefits?

How do I get approved as a host agency?

How do I hire a student?

How are students paid?

Financial Assistance

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.

Community Service Work-Study positions are:

  • Off-campus, at a private or public nonprofit agency that qualifies for FWS;
  • Subsidized by MIT through federal funds: the off-campus agency pays a portion of the student wages, usually 25%;
  • Part-time or full-time (only during non-class periods);
  • Anywhere in the U.S. (including U.S. territories);
  • In the public interest.

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

Back to top

Am I an eligible off-campus agency?

Federal, state, or local public agencies and private nonprofit organizations are eligible for FWS, 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 Host Agency Handbook

Back to top

What are Federal Work-Study Positions?

Federal Work-Study positions are developed by the PKG Center in collaboration with local community partners 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.

FederalWork-Study positions do not necessarily provide “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.

Back to top

What are the benefits?

Community Service 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: CSWS host agencies identify needs and develop ad-hoc job descriptions, in consultation with 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 CSWS host agency for the 25% share (plus FICA 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 CSWS positions are on MIT payroll.
  • Ongoing support: A dedicated PKG Center’s staff supports all CSWS host agencies 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 CSWS host agencies. 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 CSWS positions to all eligible students, including newsletters, flyers, info sessions etc.
  • Student preparation: MIT students in CSWS positions attend a detailed orientation with the PKG Center and receive a Student Handbook for reference. Students are 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!

Back to top

How do I get approved as a host agency?

Only authorized host agencies can offer work-study positions 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 (state incorporation or IRS determination letter); and
  3. Sign a Host Agency Agreement with the PKG Center.

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

Back to top

How do I hire a student?

Once your organization has been authorized as Host Agency, you must complete a Job Description for any new position you wish to offer to our students.

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

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

Authorized Host Agencies are responsible for posting approved positions on the Job Board. We recommend posting the position at least 12 weeks before desired start date.

Posted positions 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 agency.

When a candidate is identified, the Host Agency must inform the PKG Center in order to confirm the student’s FWS eligibility and begin the hiring process. Although the student will be working with your agency, they will have to complete an employment application to be hired and paid by MIT.

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

Back to top

How to pay a student?

MIT hires and pays students their full wages, on a weekly basis, on behalf of the Host Agency. Students are paid for the number of hours approved by the Host Agency and submitted to the PKG Center every week. Minimum hourly wage for CSWS positions is $11.50. Below is the MIT Community Service Work-Study wage scale:



undergraduate enrollment


graduate enrollment











Host Agencies 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.

Host Agencies hiring less-than-half-time students at any time or undergraduate students during the summer are also charged Federal Insurance Contributions (8% of student’s wages).

Invoices are sent to each Host Agency at the end of each term during which a student has worked.

Back to top

Financial Assistance

Off-campus agencies that wish to hire an MIT student in a Community Service 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 application form{HYPERLINK} and email the following documents to the PKG Center:

  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 Host Agency Handbook.

As financial assistance is limited, agencies 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 Student Handbook

CSWS Host Agencies are expected to:

  1. Read the Host Agency 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 Host Agency 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 agreement with the PKG Center.

In addition to basic information on Federal Work-Study definitions and requirements, the Host Agency 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.

Back to top

Contact us


Office: Building W20-549

Phone: (617) 253-8065

2018 Dates and Deadlines










Employment type
PT (up to 20
hrs/wk) - can
increase during non-class
PT (up to
20 hrs/wk)
PT or FT
(up to 40
PT (up to
20 hrs/wk)
PT or FT
(up to 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 FWS positions
8 weeks before start date for all other positions
2 weeks before start date for approved FWS positions
8 weeks before start date for all other positions
Nov 9 student-initiated positions
Dec 8 approved FWS positions
2 weeks before start date for approved FWS positions
8 weeks before start date for all other positions
2 weeks before start date for approved FWS positions
8 weeks before start date for all other positions
Start/End Dates
Sept 5 - May 25
Sept 5 - Dec 22 (can be extended to Jan 7)
Jan 8 - Feb 2 (can be anticipated to Jan 2 and extended to Feb 4)
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)