Hiring students receiving Federal Work Study support is an economical way to pay undergraduates to engage in research or scholarly work with faculty mentors. Faculty may be surprised to know that 75% of the student’s pay would be provided through Work Study dollars, leaving the faculty mentor responsible for only 25% of the student’s pay. This matching 25% has to be eligible OSU dollars and the student has to be paid purely an hourly wage. Students paid on stipends or with a combination of stipend/hourly wage will not be able to use the Work Study award for that position. Grant funds can be used as long as they are allocated to pay a student hourly wage.


The first step is to contact your business center to set up a new student employment posting. When creating this posting, you can choose whether you want the posting to be either “competitive” (meaning it is open to both Work Study and non-Work Study students) or have it open to Work Study students only. If you choose to create a position for Work Study students only, you can email all of the students in your class/department/college and advertise that you are interested in hiring a student who qualifies for work study. It is important that students self-identify as Work-Study-eligible to maintain confidentiality.

A Work Study student will be told how many Work Study dollars they can receive. You and your Work Study student will need to monitor how many hours the student can work with you through the Work Study program. This is critical because when their Work Study award runs out, you will be responsible for paying 100% of their wage instead of the 25% you are paying in combination with their Work Study award.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a student’s award letter says they will receive $3000 through Work Study and you are hiring them as a student researcher for $11/hr. You will pay the student $2.75 per hour and the other $8.25 per hour will be paid from the student’s Work Study award. This means the student’s total $3000 Work Study award will last for 364 hours ($3000 divided by $8.25). Once those 364 have been worked, you will be responsible for 100% of the student’s wage. If the student has multiple campus jobs, each job will be pulling from their total Work Study award so it will be critical to communicate with the student about how many hours they have left across all of their campus jobs. Employers will be notified when a student’s Work Study hours have ended since the amount you will be paying the student will increase. However, the notification may come after the Work Study award has maxed out so it’s important to communicate in advance about the number of hours the student has left.

While this may have happened in the past, there are new OSU policies in place as of December 2018 that should prevent this from happening in the future. If you hire a student who has received and accepted Work Study (and has maintained their eligibility), they will automatically be paid through Work Study when hired. In other words, you may have a Work Study student working in your lab (and you may be paying only 25% of their wage) without even knowing it! You can double check with your business center to find out.