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Guidelines for Federal Work-Study (FWS) Funded Graduate Assistantships

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a financial aid program through which the federal government subsidizes the compensation of appointed students who qualify for FWS on the basis of financial need. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine if they are eligible to be appointed to a FWS funded position. Eligibility for Federal Work-Study does not guarantee that a student will receive an assistantship appointment.
The nature of work and financial compensation are the same as that for other graduate assistantships. The value of the FWS funded portion of the assistantship stipend, as well as the waivers, are included as part of the student’s total financial aid package and can therefore affect the student’s eligibility for other aid, particularly student loans.
This program is jointly administered by the Graduate College and the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA). Questions about Federal Work-Study may be addressed to Kim Hamilton at the Office of Student Financial Aid at 217-333-7603 or

1. Graduate Student Eligibility Criteria

Students must:
a. Be U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens;
b. Be enrolled as degree candidates in the Graduate, Law, or Veterinary Medicine Colleges and registered for at least 12 hours per term;
c. Be free from educational loan default;
d. Demonstrate financial need. The needs-analysis formula used to determine a student's Student Aid Index (SAI) is determined by the federal processor. The SAI is then subtracted from the Cost of Attendance (COA) budget for graduate students (determined by the OSFA) to arrive at the student's financial need. 

2. Graduate Student Application Procedure

a.  A stu­dent must demonstrate need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed by the student. For the fastest results, students should file the FAFSA electronically. FAFSA on the Web may be accessed at or
b. In response to the completion of the FAFSA, the OSFA sends an electronic financial aid award letter. The initial letter will not include notification of an FWS funded appointment. If the FWS funded appointment is approved by the OSFA, a revised electronic financial aid letter would be sent to the student.

3. Departmental Procedures for Requesting a Federal Work-Study Graduate Assistantship

a. The assistantship must require duties consistent with those performed by other teaching, research, graduate (administrative), and pre-professional graduate assistants
b. Provide the 2024-2025 FWS Student Information to all students for whom the unit intends to submit an Appointment Request Form.
c. For each student under consideration for a FWS funded graduate assistantship, a completed Graduate Assistantship Appointment Online Request must be submitted by the appointing unit to the Office of Student Financial Aid by the established deadline. 
The FWS Graduate Assistantship Appointment Request Form should only be completed for those students whose appointment meets the eligibility criteria above, who have completed a FAFSA, and who are willing to accept an FWS funded graduate assistantship position if an appointment is approved.