Off-Campus Employment Under Federal Work-Study

A student may be employed off campus under the Federal Work-Study Program by a federal, state, or local public agency, or by a private nonprofit organization. Work is not permitted for the U.S. Department of Education, the Congress and its committees, or for individual elected officials at any level of government. The work must be performed "in the public interest" - that is, for the national or community welfare, rather than for a particular interest or group.

Local public agencies include city or county governmental offices, public schools, community-owned hospitals, public libraries, and community centers. A private nonprofit organization is one in which no part of the net earnings of the agency may benefit any private shareholder or individual. Organizations recognized as nonprofit under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code qualify for Work-Study eligibility. Examples of private nonprofit organizations include colleges and universities, hospitals, day care centers, halfway houses, crisis centers, and summer camps. Work for sectarian organizations is permitted, but the work must be in the public interest and cannot in any way support sectarian ends.

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;
  • it involves any partisan or nonpartisan political activity or is associated with a faction in an election for public or party office;
  • it is work for an elected official, unless the official is responsible for the regular administration of federal, state, or local government;
  • it is work as a political aide for any elected official;
  • a student's political support or party affiliation is taken into account in hiring him or her; or
  • it involves lobbying on the federal, state, or local level.

In deciding whether work is in the public interest, the College must consider the nature of the work as well as the organization. For example, a student may be employed by a private nonprofit civic club if the student's work is for the club's community drive to aid disabled children. If the student's work is confined to the internal interests of the club, such as a campaign for membership, the work would benefit a particular group and would not be in the public interest. As another example, a student may work for a private nonprofit membership organization, such as a golf club or swimming pool, if the general public may use the organization's facilities on the same basis as its members. If only members may use the facilities, such employment is not in the public interest.

Political activity, whether partisan or nonpartisan, does not qualify as work in the public interest. For example, students could not work at voting polls -- even if they only checked off the names of those who came to vote and did not pass out flyers supporting a particular candidate. Also, students could not work to support an independent candidate. Another example of nonpartisan political activity would be work for a city department that might be sponsoring political debates.

Working for an elected official as a political aide also does not qualify as work in the public interest. For example, a student could not represent a member of Congress on a committee. However, a student could be assigned to the staff of a standing committee of a legislative body or could work on a special committee, as long as the student would be selected on a nonpartisan basis and the work performed would be nonpartisan.

Under certain circumstances work for an elected official responsible for the regular administration of federal, state, or local government may be considered to be in the public interest. "Regular administration" means that the official is directly responsible for administering a particular function. Such a person would not create, abolish, or fund any programs, but would run them. Working for a sheriff would be acceptable, as would working for an elected judge (because he or she has direct responsibility for the judicial system). As stated above, any political activity would not be acceptable — raising funds for the official's re-election, for example. A Work-Study position that involves lobbying at the federal, state, or local level is not work in the public interest.

Work-Study students are prohibited from working for the U.S. Department of Education because of the potential appearance of conflict of interest.

When the College enters into a written agreement, or contract, with any off-campus agency that employs Work-Study students, it must make sure the organization is a reliable agency with professional direction and staff, and that the work to be performed is adequately supervised and consistent with the purpose of the Federal Work-Study Program. The off-campus agency must be able to provide required matching funds (10% of the student's salary along with 7.65% of the employer's portion of Social Security/Medicare taxes and 2% for worker's compensation insurance). The total matching amount is equal to 19.65 % of the student's earnings.

A student may be employed under Work-Study during a period of non-enrollment, such as summer vacation. To be eligible for employment the student must be planning to enroll (or re-enroll) for the next regular semester. The student's earnings during this period of non-enrollment (earnings minus taxes and job-related expenses) must be used to help pay his or her cost of attendance for the next period of enrollment.

 Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional information on eligibility requirements.