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Financial Aid

Community Service and Work-Study

Community Service and Work-Study

Students who have been awarded Federal Work-Study (FWS) may obtain positions at authorized off-campus agencies.  Financial Aid partners with community service organizations across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide community service opportunities to work-study students.  Students who work in these programs are able to do work that enriches the community while developing important professional skills.  

Employers participating in the Off-Campus FWS program at UMass Amherst:

  • will provide opportunities for students to engage in meaningful community service functions, with preference given to positions involving direct service;
  • are committed to a long-term relationship with UMass Amherst to provide student employment opportunities;
  • will provide opportunities for students to work in positions with strong supervisory/mentoring relationships;
  • understand and are willing to work within the constraints created by the flexible scheduling needs of students;
  • understand that FWS eligibility is based on a student's need, not on skills or talent, and are willing to assist less qualified individuals gain the necessary skills needed.

Where can I use my work-study in the community?

America Reads and America Counts

Many UMass Amherst students obtain work-study jobs with America Reads and America Counts, excellent community service programs administered by the Five Colleges. America Reads is a nationwide effort to bring together parents, teachers, community groups, college students, and business leaders to insure that all children read independently by the end of third grade. America Counts is a similar program that aims to help children master the fundamentals of mathematics.

Work-study students who take these positions work in area schools with professional teachers and educators, tutoring in small groups or one-on-one. America Reads tutors work with children in preschool through sixth grade and America Counts tutors focus on kindergarten through ninth grade.

If you do not have Federal Work-Study as part of your financial aid package, you can still be an America Reads or America Counts Tutor as a volunteer.

America Reads/Counts participants are provided with tutor training, which is required, and will be paid once you have secured a tutoring position using your Federal Work-Study.

Please note that a criminal background check (CORI), and/or additional training, may be required by the America Reads/Counts site before you begin work as either a paid or volunteer tutor.

Please visit the website below for more information about these programs and to view tutoring positions.


Agency Guidelines

Hiring and Payroll Guidelines for Community Service Agencies

Your agency will not be eligible to hire and begin paying a UMass Amherst student under the Off-Campus FWS program until we have an approved contract on file with your organization.  Per the contractual agreement, UMass Amherst acts as the employer and Student Employment determines if the student meets the eligibility requirements for employment under the Federal Work-Study program. UMass Amherst will be responsible for paying students, on an hourly basis, under its normal payroll system. Once you are an approved agency, you must submit a "request to hire" for each student you plan to employ, each academic period (academic year and/or summer).

Note: If a student begins working prior to UMass Amherst approval, your agency will assume responsibility for 100% of the student's compensation. In this situation the student will need to be placed on your agency's payroll and paid for all hours worked prior to the start date approved by the SEO.

As a hiring agency under the FWS program, you must submit signed time sheets to authorize hours worked on a weekly basis. A time sheet link will be emailed to you once during a hiring period and new students will be added as they are approved to work for your agency. Signed time sheets are due every Thursday for each hired student (even if zero hours). **Failure to submit time sheets each week may prevent students from being paid on time.** Weekly time sheets should be submitted by email to

Students are to be paid only for hours actually worked and are not to be paid for break-time, meal periods, holidays, vacation, sick time, etc. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, prohibits employers (and agencies) from accepting voluntary service from any paid employee. Any student employed through the FWS program must be paid for all hours worked.

Your agency will be billed on a monthly basis from the UMass Amherst Controllers Office for your share of the total wages earned by each approved UMass Amherst student employee for the prior month. Your share will be based on the Off-Campus Federal Work-Study category under which your agency qualifies, as outlined in the contract. This category will be determined based on your organizational information.

Work-Study Limitations

In accordance with the requirements of federal programs, work to be performed under Off-Campus FWS agreements:

  • must be either related to the student's educational objectives or in the public interest;
  • must be governed by employment conditions, including pay, that are reasonable according to the type of work performed, the geographic region, the employee's proficiency, and any applicable federal, state, or local law;
  • must not displace employees or impair existing service contracts (replacement is interpreted as displacement);
  • must not involve constructing, operating, or maintaining any part of a building used for religious worship or sectarian instruction;
  • must not solicit, accept, or permit soliciting any fee, commission, contribution, or gift as a condition of the student's FWS employment (union dues excluded if paid by all employees).

Further, no work shall be considered in the public interest where:

  • it primarily benefits the members of an organization that has membership limitations;
  • it involves any partisan or nonpartisan political activity or is associated with a faction in an election for public or party office;
  • it is work for an elected official unless the official is responsible for the regular administration of federal, state, or local government;
  • it is work as a political aide for any elected official;
  • a student's political support or party affiliation is taken into account in hiring him or her;
  • it involves lobbying on a federal, state, or local level.

If you believe your agency qualifies, and you would like to hire a Federal Work-Study student, please see the Agency Registration page.

Civic Engagement & Service Learning

Students already engaged in academic service-learning initiatives can combine the activities they are doing in the community with their Federal Work-Study award. If you have work-study, and are regularly providing volunteer hours with one of the Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) partner organizations, you can be paid for the work you are performing. Please visit the Where can I use my work-study in the community? page to review our active UMass Amherst Community Service agencies. If your organization is not listed, have them contact our office to become an agency.

Please note that all required paperwork must be completed by the employing agency, and the student, before a student may be paid for hours worked. Please also be sure to review the Federal Work-Study requirements for Community Service and the work-study program.