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Career & Professional Development Center

Federal Work Study

Federal Work-study offers students legal public interest and public service experience while reducing reliance on student loans. The program also gives non-profit and government legal offices access to low-cost student workers.

How it works

Annually, the school receives federal funding to divide between on-campus and off-campus non-profit and government legal employers. Employers who are awarded funding hire students who are work-study eligible based on their financial aid package. Work-study students are employees of the off-campus office; although, Lewis & Clark handles payroll while the work-study contract is active. Employers are responsible for 50% of the student’s salary plus workers compensation insurance and are billed by Lewis & Clark monthly. Once work-study awards are depleted, employers move students to their internal payroll.


2015-2016 Employer Work-study Application due April 22, 2016 for priority distribution.


March to April
Employers request work-study funding from Lewis & Clark for the upcoming summer and following school year.
April to May
Lewis & Clark awards work study contracts to employers.
June to the following May
Students perform work.

Employers may recruit work-study students before contracts are awarded on a contingent basis, or wait until contracts are announced. Non-profit and government legal employers may be able to use students who are not work-study eligible as pro bono volunteers or externs for credit.

Occasionally, extra funds are available to make individual work-study awards outside of the normal timeline. This is particularly useful for students who, on their own, find employers willing to host.

Employer eligibility

  • Employers must be governmental agencies or non-profits.
  • Employers must have an attorney to supervise and train the student.
  • Employers must provide reasonable monitoring of student hours.
  • Employers must act in the public interest, benefiting the community.
  • Employers must be able to pay their portion of student salaries.
  • Employers must provide work that enhances the student’s legal education.
  • Employers must not replace or displace other employees with students.
  • Employers must not require religious or political involvement from students.

Student eligibility

Federal Work-Study is a need-based financial aid program and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)is required to determine eligibility. This application should be completed by the priority filing deadline of February 15th. First year law students are not eligible for work-study during the academic year; however, they may be offered a work-study award during the summer following first year. Anyone receiving summer work-study must either enroll in summer courses or intend to enroll in the fall as a Lewis & Clark law student. 

Students who have completed the FAFSA for the current or following school year can contact the Office of Financial Aid to get an estimate of eligibility.

Finding positions

Pre-approved opportunities

Employers who receive or expect to receive work-study funding often post positions through our job postings. Most of our work-study employers also interview through the NW Public Service Career Fair. Positions are typically listed in at the beginning of the school year, in late fall or in early spring, but some jobs may become available throughout the year.

Other opportunities

Employers who do not regularly participate in our work-study program may be willing to participate. Students will sometimes find these positions in our job postings and you will sometimes find these positions on their own. Once found, the employer must apply for work-study funds. Typically, there is a limited pool of funds available for funding these positions.

Financial aid effects

Student eligibility for work-study is need based and the amount a student can earn varies. When a student receives work-study, earnings substitute dollar for dollar for another form of aid, typically loans.

For a student who has taken the maximum amount that they can borrow, this means they will likely be able to borrow less as a result of receiving work-study funds. Although the maxed out student might not end up with more money to spend, work-study dollars do not need to be paid back over time as loans do.

Students who have not taken out the maximum amount they can borrow may be able to reduce further how much they borrow or may be able to have additional spending money without increasing their loan expenses.

What happens once a student is hired?

In order for a student to be paid through the work-study program, the employer must already have a work-study contract. Once that contract is in place and the student is hired these steps must be taken: 

  1. If not already done, the student should confirm their eligibility for work-study with Financial Aid.
  2. A Federal Work-Study Request Form must be completed in order for the student’s financial aid package to be revised to include work-study. This form is available at Law Business Services.
  3. The student must notify Law Business Services and arrange to show their I-9 compliant identification and complete online employment forms through the school’s online payroll system. 
  4. The student must submit their time through the school’s online payroll system prior to the end of each month. 
  5. Each month, the host approves the hours submitted through the school’s online payroll system. 

Students are paid in the middle of the month following time submission.