Unlike other aid programs, work-study is aid that needs to be earned. Work-study is need based and limited in funding so not all students will qualify for it. A student awarded work-study will only receive the funding if they secure a position and work the hours.
Work-study positions are available on campus and at non-profit agencies in the community. Employers are flexible in setting work hours to accommodate a student's class schedule. UM policy limits students to working no more than 19 hours per week so that a student's studies are not adversely impacted.
Though work-study funding is taxable income, it is excluded from student wages on the FAFSA in the upcoming year.
For questions on how COVID-19 impacts work study, see "Federal Aid Updates" on the FAQ page here.
The Federal and State guidance for student employment has been updating almost daily so the Financial Aid Office would like to share the most recent information. The Commission of Higher Education recently determined that the hiring freeze across the Montana University System does not apply to Work Study employment which is part of a student's financial aid offer. On and Off-campus employers may employ eligible students through the Work Study program. More information is available on the COVID FAQ under Student Employment.
(April 30, 2020)
At UM, Federal Work-Study is offered if there is sufficient unmet need after all other grants and Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are awarded. Funding is limited, so priority is given to undergraduates with an EFC lower than 16,000 who complete the FAFSA by December 1st for the upcoming autumn term. It is not offered if on the FAFSA a student indicated they were not interested in being considered for work-study.
Having work-study on one's award letter is not a guarantee that a student will be able to secure a work-study position. Current work-study students are not assured renewal of their funding unless they apply early and continue to meet the eligibility requirements.
Finding a Job
Eligible work-study students must perform a job search and be hired by a department or agency to receive funding. It is best to begin this search just prior to the start of the autumn semester or during the first couple of weeks of classes.
UM has an electronic job board, Handshake, that lists both work-study and non work-study employment opportunities. Questions about using Handshake should be directed to Alexandria Harris in Career Services.
Though the majority of positions are filled at the start of the school year, some positions remain open well into the autumn semester. Further, there is often mid-year turnover, so students interested in working should be able to secure employment.
Terms of Employment
Once a student has accepted a position offered by a department or agency they must submit the hire card to financial aid. If a student has not been recently employed by UM they will also have to submit employment paperwork required by Human Resources (e.g. W-4 form and I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form). A student cannot begin working until all required paperwork is submitted.
As each payroll period is completed a student's earnings will be reflected in the paid amount of the work-study award visible in CyberBear. Students can continue to work even if they have exceeded the amount allotted for the given term as long as they have not exceeded their total award amount for the year.
If a student reaches the annual award amount they must stop working, unless the employer is willing to hire them as a non-work-study student. It is recommended that students work with their employers to budget their time to ensure continuous employment throughout the school year.
For further details on policies and procedures, students and their supervisors should refer to UM's Work-Study Employment Manual.
Work-study is not disbursed to a student's account like other financial aid. Rather, it is paid in the form of a paycheck, issued twice a month, with the amount paid dependent on the rate of pay and number of hours worked. Because of this, work-study is not available to be used as a pending credit on the registration bill.
Students can sign up for Direct Deposit in the Payroll Office in Lommasson Center. If a student opts not to have the funds electronically deposited, then paychecks are generally made available on the 1st and 15th of every month. There is approximately a two-week lag from the end of the pay period to when a student gets paid.
Students taking classes in the summer may be eligible for part-time work-study. To be eligible they must complete the current year's FAFSA and submit the Summer Financial Aid Application. The application is made available when summer registration begins.
Students who are not taking classes in the summer but will be attending classes in the upcoming autumn may qualify for full-time work-study. To be eligible they must complete the upcoming year's FAFSA, any verification requirements and submit the Summer Work-Study Only Application. The application is usually made available in January.
Other Student Employment
Students who are not awarded work-study, or have been awarded work-study but are not able to find a job to their liking, may be able to secure non-work-study employment.
Businesses in the community and several on-campus departments offer non-work-study positions. Many of these positions are posted through Griz eRecruiting.