Federal Work Study at Bowdoin

What is Federal Work Study (FWS)?

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program provides Bowdoin (and other colleges) with federal funding to provide campus jobs to students with financial need. Students can then earn money to help pay for  educational expenses.

In order to received FWS funding, you simply need to fill out the FAFSA. Note: Some students who do not qualify for a Bowdoin grant could potentially qualify for FWS.

For students receiving Bowdoin aid: The dollar figure you see on your student aid package is an estimated academic year earnings expectation. You may earn more or less. Check with the financial aid office directly to learn the total amount of your FWS eligibility for the year. 

Is Federal Work Study a grant?

No, FWS is not a grant (you have to earn it) or a loan (you don’t need to repay it). FWS money is dispersed to you, the student, in wages earned through an on-campus job at Bowdoin. If you don’t work, you won’t receive any FWS wages.

Please note that your student wages are never directly applied to your Bowdoin bill. You will be paid an hourly wage that will be directly deposited into a personal bank account that you elect. If you want to apply your earned wages toward your Bowdoin billed expenses, you must pay the Bursar. Your billed and unbilled expenses that aren’t met through grants or scholarships are your responsibility. You should talk with your family or a financial aid counselor if you have questions about how much of your wages should be applied to your Bowdoin expenses.

How does Bowdoin calculate FWS eligibility?

The formula for determining eligibility for FWS is this: Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC) minus additional aid (e.g. a Bowdoin grant, State scholarships, grants, and some loans) equals your remaining need-based aid eligibility. This eligibility may be filled by a combination of need-based loans (typically a Federal Direct Subsidized Student loan) and/or Federal Work Study. A student has some flexibility to either reduce loans and work for the money, or reduce FWS eligibility in favor of increasing a student loan.

Is it possible to receive Bowdoin financial aid and not be eligible for FWS?

Yes. Even if you receive financial aid at Bowdoin, you may not be FWS eligible. Federal aid regulations do not permit us to provide aid that exceeds the Cost of Attendance. See the FWS calculation above.

Why did my FWS eligibility change? I was eligible in the fall. Why not in the spring?

Your FWS eligibility may change over the course of the academic year. You may have taken a student loan, earned wages that exceeded your FWS eligibility, or you may have received additional grants or aid. The Student Aid office recalculates FWS eligibility every spring.

If I do not have FWS eligibility, can I still work on campus at Bowdoin?

Yes! All students at Bowdoin may work on campus regardless of their financial aid status (up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and up to 40 hours per week during breaks). Students with FWS eligibility as part of their aid award may or may not choose to work on campus. If you choose not to work, you would need to find other ways to pay for your remaining educational expenses.

If everyone at Bowdoin may work, why does my FWS eligibility matter?

One significant benefit to you is that you will be able to apply for some of the community service jobs offered through the McKeen Center that are available only to students with FWS eligibility. Otherwise, there are no differences in the jobs on campus. You may apply for any job on campus if you’re eligible for FWS to earn those funds.