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Career & Professional Development Center

Federal Work Study

Federal Work-Study offers students legal work 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

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a need-based financial aid program. To qualify for a FWS award, a law student must file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), demonstrate sufficient financial need, and be offered a FWS position. Many of these jobs are posted in Career Connect. Positions are offered through a competitive interview process, and they are generally not available until the first year of law school has been completed. Students may work a maximum of 40 hours per week during the summer and up to 20 hours per week during the academic year.

Non-profit and government legal employers must apply to participate in the program if they wish to hire FWS-eligible students. Employers who are approved for FWS funding will receive a contract for the academic year (June – May). Under the contract, students will be paid through the Lewis & Clark payroll, but designated supervisors at the FWS Agency partner will act as the students’ supervisors in every other respect.

If you are an employer who is interested in applying for FWS funding, please contact Carra Sahler at sahler@lclark.edu. Note that employers must apply every year as contracts are not renewed automatically.

Timeline

April

Employers request Federal Work-Study (FWS) allocations from Lewis & Clark for the upcoming summer and following school year. If you are interested in receiving the application, please contact Carra Sahler at sahler@lclark.edu.

April to May

Lewis & Clark allocates work-study funding via contracts with FWS Agency partners. FWS Agency partners provide hiring request information to Lewis & Clark if they have not done so already.

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.

June to the following May

All hiring requests should be submitted at least 3 business days prior to the student’s start date. Before a student may begin working, the student MUST complete the L&C onboarding and I-9 process.

Students may begin to perform work on (but not before) June 1st.

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

How do students apply for FWS, get hired, and get paid?

  1. Students interested in FWS must complete a FAFSA. The Office of Financial Aid will review aid applications and notify students if they are likely to be eligible for a FWS award.
    • Students should be aware that FWS awards replace an equivalent amount of federal student loan eligibility. Participating in the FWS program allows students to earn money to help pay their education expenses, so it can be an effective way to minimize law school loan debt.
  2. Students contact Carra Sahler at sahler@lclark.eduwhen they have been offered a FWS job. If they have already received notification that FWS eligibility is likely, Carra Sahler will send them a link to the online FWS Request Form. Upon submission, requests will be forwarded to the Office of Financial Aid.
    • Students may not begin working before receiving a financial aid award that includes FWS, or before completing the federally required I-9 authorization process.
  3. Students are notified by email when their financial aid award letters are released or revised. If a FWS request was approved, there will be a short paragraph at the bottom of the award letter notifying the student of their FWS earning limit.
  4. Hiring requests are confirmed by email. Students must complete online employment forms in Workday (W-4, direct deposit, etc.) and visit Law Business Services to show their I-9 identification document(s).
  5. The student may then begin working. On a weekly basis the student will log in to Workday, our payroll and time tracking system, to submit time worked for their employer supervisor’s approval.
  6. All time for each prior month will be submitted on the first of the month. Time entry reminder emails will be sent from Lewis & Clark Human Resources.
  7. By the second of each month, the employer supervisor approves the hours submitted through Workday for payroll processing.
  1. Students are normally paid on the 10th of the month following time submission. If the 10th falls on a weekend, the pay date is the Friday before the 10th.
  2. Students are responsible for tracking their total earnings under the FWS program to ensure they don’t exceed their award amount. It is important to be mindful of the remaining balance on the FWS award because the FWS partner agency will be billed for one hundred percent of any wages that exceed the earning limit.  Students can view the FWS award balance as of the last pay period in our payroll and time tracking system, Workday.

Employer Eligibility

  • FWS Agency partners must be governmental agencies or non-profits.
  • FWS Agency partners must have an attorney to supervise and train the student.
  • FWS Agency partners must provide reasonable monitoring of student hours.
  • FWS Agency partners must act in the public interest, benefiting the community.
  • FWS Agency partners must be able to pay 50% of student wages.
  • FWS Agency partners must provide work that enhances the student’s legal education.
  • FWS Agency partners must not replace or displace other employees with students.
  • FWS Agency partners must not require religious or political involvement from students.
  • FWS Agency partners must stop student work or transition the student to their own payroll when either the individual student’s FWS award or the employer’s FWS allocation is exhausted.

Finding Positions

Pre-approved opportunities

Employers who receive or expect to receive FWS funding often post positions through Career Connect. Most of our work-study employers also interview through the NW Public Service Career Fair.

Other opportunities

Students may find positions in Career Connect or on their own that are offered by other employers who are not regularly involved with our work-study program. If the employer is willing to participate, they can apply for FWS funding. Typically, there is a limited pool of funds available for these positions.