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Federal Work-Study and Employment

Student work is an important part of your financial aid award. Most students work while on campus, finding jobs at UChicago’s on-campus hospital and in University museums, offices, libraries, and labs. Although it is not mandatory to work in order to contribute to your education, if you don’t work, you will not receive the work-related funding portion of your financial aid award. While working, you will receive a paycheck every two weeks, just like any other part-time job. How you use it is up to you. Many students will use the income earned to pay for books, supplies, and extracurricular activities. Some students help their parents pay costs to the Bursar’s Office.

Federal Work-Study Eligibility and Non-Work-Study Eligibility

If you qualify for financial aid, you may be awarded Federal Work-Study. The wages for work study-eligible positions are subsidized by the government. As such, the income earned in these positions is considered financial aid, not income. If you are not eligible for the Federal Work-Study program, you will see “student employment” listed on your award letter. This designation means that you will need to find a job that does not require that you be Federal Work-Study eligible. The Office of Student Employment has postings for both Federal Work-Study and non-Work-Study positions, both on and off campus. Students may only work a maximum of 20 hours a week during the academic year, if employed through the Office of Student Employment.

If you are hired into a Federal Work-Study position, you must provide your employer with your Employment Authorization Form. This form is unique to you, details your Federal Work-Study award amount, and is required in order to be hired into a Federal Work-Study position. You can access your Employment Authorization form as follows:

  • Log in to your MyUChicago student portal
  • Click Finances > Financial Aid
  • Select “FWS Employment Authorization” from the drop-down (make sure your pop-up blocker is disabled)

The form must be submitted to your employer before you can start working.

Summer Federal Work-Study

To determine eligibility for Summer Federal Work-Study:

Please visit the Office of Student Employment to find a position that works with your strengths and availability.

Self-Help Expectation

While The University of Chicago’s all-grant financial aid awards provide the opportunity for students to graduate without significant debt, we do expect students and families to help contribute toward the cost of the UChicago education.  Students’ financial aid awards will contain self-help expectations in the form of Federal Work-Study eligibility and/or work expectations.  These work expectations will help students to contribute towards, among other costs, their occasional personal expenses during the academic year. 

With many jobs, internships and research positions available both on-campus and off-campus, students who choose to work can cover their personal expenses through these paychecks. Students can start their job search here. 

Students may choose not to work.  If additional funds are needed to meet expenses, these costs could be covered by the parent contribution, outside scholarships or small federal loans (as last option).  If you have questions about your individual situation, please feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office. 

As a guideline, the self-help expectations will increase throughout your years in the College.  Current (2019-2020) amounts will not exceed: 

Year Total Self-Help
1 $5,000
2 $5,500
3 $6,000
4 $6,500

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