Federal Work-Study Program

Search for a Job: Handshake
Please visit our Work-Study and COVID-19 Information Page.
If you are an employer, please visit the Work-Study Employers section.
  • What is Work-Study?

    Work-Study is a need-based form of Financial Aid that you earn through on- or off-campus employment and receive in the form of a paycheck.

  • Why Work-Study?

    The intent of the Work-Study Program is to encourage your part-time employment and reduce the amount of loan debt incurred while attending college. Work-Study does so by paying a portion of your salary, thus making you a "better financial deal" for your employer.

  • How do I get Paid?

    Unlike other forms of Financial Aid that you may receive (e.g.: loans, grants, scholarships), your Work-Study award never credits to your BARC account. Your Work-Study award is paid directly to you, as it is earned, through a paycheck. Work-Study payroll cycles are two weeks long, from Sunday to the second following Saturday. A payroll check is issued approximately a week and a half later (e.g. WSP pay period February 3rd - February 16th; check date February 27th).
  • How do I Qualify?

    To qualify for a Work-Study award, a student must file a FAFSA or DREAM Act Application prior to March 2nd and have sufficient financial need. Our office determines your Financial Aid eligibility and notifies you of your aid in a Financial Aid Award Letter, which may include a Work-Study award.

    Students who submitted a DREAM ACT application and are eligible to receive Work-Study can activate this award only if they obtained a social security number after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted them Deferred Action Status and received an Employment Authorization Card.

    Unit Load Requirement:
    Additionally, all qualifying Work-Study recipients must maintain a minimum study load of six (6) units each quarter. Students found to have registered below six units at the Census Date will not qualify for Work-Study funding during that quarter. The Census Date occurs one day after the last day to drop classes on Gold. On that date, the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships will take a snap-shot of your unit registration load in Gold. Employers will be notified immediately of changes to your Work-Study eligibility, which may result in the loss of employment. Employers have full discretion concerning whether to keep you employed or not. The Work-Study Unit will gladly re-instate Work-Study funding if you re-enroll in more units after the Census Date.

  • Was I Awarded Work-Study?

    Check your Financial Aid Award Letter on My Aid Status to confirm your eligibility. If you do not have Work-Study or would like to increase your Work-Study award, you may complete the Work-Study Appeal - the appeal process is available through a link in the Award Letter tab in My Aid Status, below the Awards section - this process opens in late-October and is subject to available funds.

    Please note, Work-Study is not a requirement to be hired for an on-campus position. Students that have not been awarded Work-Study are still encouraged to look for available positions on UCSB Handshake.

  • What is a Work-Study Referral? How do I Get One?

    Your Work-Study Referral is the document that verifies you are a Work-Study recipient and authorizes your (prospective) employer(s) to pay you with Work-Study funds. You must present a Work-Study Program Referral to your employer(s) to utilize your Work-Study Eligibility. 

    Referrals are available 10 days before the first day of Fall quarter instruction and to those award recipients that have either paid or deferred their Fall-quarter fees. You will be able to print your Referral from the Award Letter tab on My Aid Status. Click the question mark icon next to your Federal Work-Study or Professional Experience Opportunity eligibility to expand this section of your Award Letter and access the link to your referral.
  • How do I Find a Job?

    Both on-campus and off-campus employers advertise their available Work-Study positions on UCSB Handshake. Students may begin to apply and search for positions mid August. All students must have a UCSBNetID to log into Handshake to begin their job search. Access to Handshake is restricted to those students that are officially registered for classes at UCSB or affiliated alumni.

    Once your Official Award Letter is available, you may print it and submit it to your prospective employer as proof of your Work-Study eligibility . If and when you are hired, you must provide a Work-Study Referral form to your employer in order to be hired as a Work-Study student. 

    All Work-Study eligible students will be able to print their Work-Study Referral form from the Dashboard of their My Aid Status Account 10 days before the first day of Fall quarter instruction. 

    Off-campus employers must be pre-approved by the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships. Employers that are interested in participating in the Work-Study Program at UCSB may contact finaidwsp@sa.ucsb.edu or visit the employer section of our website for information about the program and the application process. Please note that we are only able to accept applications from organizations in the UCSB area at this time.


  • I Found a Job. How do I Get Hired?

    If you are hired for an on-campus position, your employer will:

    • Accept your Referral
    • Prepare and submit employment paperwork to our office
    • Provide you with a time sheet
    • Provide you with a job description
    • Work with you to create a work schedule
    • Train and supervise you, evaluating your job performance.

    If you are hired for an approved off-campus position, you must schedule an appointment with a Work-Study Program administrator. Once you have your referral packet completed by you and your employer schedule an appointment with the Work Study Unit at finaidwsp@sa.ucsb.edu. A Zoom meeting will be scheduled by the Work-Study Unit.

    Please make sure to email the below items when scheduling your appointment:

    • Completed Referral (no signatures required at this time); 
    • Completed Student Information Sheet; 
      Completed Work-Study Program Student Employee Job Description;
    • and Completed Statement of Academic Relevance (required only for For-Profit Agencies)

    Start dates for working under the Work-Study Program will be set for 1 week from the appointment date.

    After the appointment is complete, the Work-Study Unit will initiate the DocuSign process for students and employers to sign referral packets. Students will need to setup an additional appointment to complete the I-9 verification process; instructions will be included during initial appointment with the Work-Study Unit.

    A Letter of Clearance will be sent to your employer indicating your eligible start date under the Work-Study Program once the process is complete. A Letter of Clearance will not be generated until referral packets have been DocuSigned by both student and employer and student's I-9 verification is complete. 

  • Can I Have More than One Work-Study Job?

    Yes. If you want to split your Work-Study among multiple Work-Study employers, you may complete the Work-Study Employer Change Request  - the process is available through the Work-Study Eligibility section on the Award Letter tab in My Aid Status.

  • Will My Work-Study Award Expire if I Don't Use It?

    Your Work-Study will eventually expire if you do not secure employment. You may not carry forward your unearned Work-Study into Summer or the next academic year.

    Should you not secure employment or do not wish to use Work-Study funds, you may convert your unearned Work-Study eligibility to additional Federal Direct or  Parent PLUS Loan eligibility. The Work-Study Conversion process is available through the Work-Study Eligibility section on the Award Letter tab in My Aid Status. If Work-Study has been converted to additional loan eligibility, the Office of Financial Aid will determine which additional resource you are eligible  to receive and update your Financial Aid Offer.