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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.

 2018 Applications will be due in mid-April 2018.

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.  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.


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.

What happens once a student is hired?

In order for a student to be paid through the Federal Work-Study program, the employer must already have an active federal work-study agency partner contract with L&C. 

  1. Students who have been offered a Federal Work-Study (FWS) job should complete the FWS Request Form and return it to Law Business Services.
  2. A copy will be forwarded to the Financial Aid Office where eligibility for FWS will be determined; the student’s FAFSA will be reviewed and their financial need will be evaluated.
  3. Students may not begin working before receiving a financial aid award that includes FWS, or before completing the federally required I-9 authorization process . 
  4. Students are notified by email when their award letter is released or revised.  If it is determined that they are eligible to receive a FWS award, there will be a short paragraph at the bottom of their award letter notifying them of the amount they are eligible to earn.
  5. A hiring request is confirmed by email and the student must visit Law Business Services to show their I-9 identification document(s) and also complete online employment forms in Workday (W-2, direct deposit, etc).
  6. The student may then begin working, and will submit time worked through Workday, prior to the last day of each month. 
  7. Each month, the agency supervisor approves the hours submitted through Workday. 
  8. Students are paid on the 10th of the month following time submission, (unless the 10th falls on a weekend, and then the pay date is the Friday before the 10th).

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.


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