Federal Work Study (FWS) for Research Assistants

What is work study?

Federal Work Study is administered by UCF Financial Aid. Please check their pages for the latest information and if you have any questions: https://www.ucf.edu/financial-aid/types/federal-work-study/

Federal Work Study (FWS) and the Florida Work Experience Program (FWEP) can be used to fund research assistants’ wages. FWS is a federally funded program that provides college students, who qualify for this financial-need based program, a chance to learn useful skills that can be applied to their future employment and earn money while pursuing their degree. The Florida Work Experience Program (FWEP) is a state-funded program (for Florida residents) designed to support students with financial need in gaining work experience relevant to their field of study through an internship experience; research internships can be a great fit for this program.

In terms of undergraduate research, skills can be developed in a faculty mentored and structured research environment as a Research Assistant under FWS or FWEP.  Students have the opportunity to learn essential aspects of the research process and gain experience in academic research and collaboration.

Why pursue work study?


Faculty mentors, or department liaisons, have the opportunity to employ students to work with them on research and creative scholarship while student research employees gain valuable research experience and income.


If qualified, students have the opportunity to receive hourly payment when working with faculty as a research assistant, instead of just volunteering for the position.

How do I get started?

Faculty Steps

Student Steps

Steps to Complete:

  1. Find your departmental HR Liaison (this person is in charge of OPS hiring and timesheets)
    • If you are not sure, call HR (407-823-2771).
  2. Make sure that you have the UCFID of the student(s) you want to hire
  3. Email workstudy@ucf.edu with the below information:
    1. Position description for the Research Assistant (If you do not have one, you can build one using the form below.)
    2. The number of hours you would like to hire the student to work, per week
      • For FWS, the limit is 20 hours.
      • For FWEP, the limit is 29 hours.
    3. Desired hourly wage ($10/hr is standard for undergraduate research assistants; FWEP recipients max out at $12/hr)
    4. Provide HR liaison name and contact (or just CC them)
Steps to Complete to Become FWS/FWEP Eligible:

  1. Prior to the beginning of each semester, check your Financial Aid tab in MyUCF to see if you qualify for Federal Work Study.
    • Federal Work Study and Florida Work Experience Program  eligibility is determined by the information submitted on the FAFSA. Check https://finaid.ucf.edu/ for the most up to date criteria for qualification.
  2. If you do qualify, contact Student Financial Assistance to discuss your financial aid package https://finaid.ucf.edu/
  3. Accept the award, on myUCF (via View Financial Aid) as early in the semester as possible.
  4. Complete the annual FWS Contract on your MyUCF To Do List.

*If you qualify for FWS and are a Florida resident, email workstudy@ucf.edu to see if you qualify for the Florida Work Experience Program.

If you are stuck or having trouble, please contact our@ucf.edu.

Information for Faculty Supervisors & HR Liaisons

How Much Does it Cost?

Federal Work Study: When a student participates in FWS, there is a departmental FWS account though which they are paid. Their wages do not come from your budget, but you are responsible for paying the fringe benefits (2% of earnings; earnings are capped at $2500/semester).

Florida Work Experience Program: These wages come out of your departmental account, but are reimbursed once a month. You are also responsible for paying the fringe benefits (2% of earnings; earnings are capped at $3000/semester).

For Faculty: Build an Undergraduate Research Position Description

Use the form below to fill in the blanks in this sample position description for FWS and/or FWEP. The form will email you a copy that can be forwarded to workstudy@ucf.edu.

Undergraduate students will participate in a research experience, working on experimental, analytical, or observational projects in a formal UCF research setting. Duties may include: [insert duties here]

Specific duties are based on individual student background and ability. Projects may vary depending on the research needs at the time. Students will be supervised by the appropriate content experts (i.e., UCF faculty members).

Hours are between [insert hours here] hours per week, schedule depending upon student course load and research groups hours.

Pay rate is [insert pay here] per hour.

  • Hold the shift key to select multiple activities
  • Federal Work Study awards are capped at $2500 per term, but there may be flexibility in this if a student qualifies for the Florida Work Experience Program and has a higher financial need.