Students may work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (including Spring Break) and 35 hours per week during eligible winter and summer break. The work performed must be in the public interest. Specific guidelines regarding what is and is not considered public interest work can be found on the Work-Study Office website, as part of Student Financial Services. Columbia University is deemed the employer under the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, i.e., it pays the intern’s salary and workers’ compensation and it withholds any required income taxes. The host organization makes regular payments to Columbia University to cover the 25% of the intern’s salary.
Students participating in the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program must be:
- U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents, and
- eligible to receive Federal Work-Study wages.
Your first step is to meet with your financial aid officer in Student Financial Services to determine your Work-Study eligibility and Work-Study allocation. Alternatively, you can verify your eligibility and allocation through the Columbia University Students Services Online (SSOL) website to track your Award Letter through the Financial Aid section.
A student’s Work-Study allocation represents 100% of the earnings that the student may earn under the FWS program. Also, the student’s allocation is used to cover both the federal government’s 75% and the host organization’s 25% contributions to that student.
On-Campus Federal Work-Study
At the beginning of each semester, look out for postings in the SIPA building and around the Columbia campus for various Work-Study positions covering research and other administrative tasks. Concentration offices, regional institutes, libraries, computer labs, and administrative offices often hire Work-Study students. Many Work-Study positions are advertised on an as-needed basis and many are offered year-round.
We also recommend you review the Start-Up Guide to Work-Study on the Columbia Work-Study website for more details.
Columbia University’s Federal Work-Study Program maintains a central database of job postings. Make sure to check that on a regular basis. To access the work-study job listings, visit the Find a Work-Study Job section of the Work-Study website.
Off-Campus Federal Work-Study
Regularly check SIPAlink for off-campus Federal Work-Study (FWS) positions. Note that many organizations do not advertise their internships as Work-Study positions; however, students have persuaded the organizations to make the internships Work-Study eligible by informing the organizations about the FWS program. In addition, internships often come to SIPA through alumni or contacts who are not aware of their organizations’ participation in the FWS program, i.e., empower yourself to investigate the possibility of making the internship Work-Study eligible.
Work-Study with Federal, State, Municipal Agency Employers
New York City Public Service Corps
New York City Public Services Corps funds the largest off-campus Work-Study program for NYC agencies. The New York City Public Service Corps (formerly known as Urban Corps) began more than 30 years ago as an alternative to on-campus placements for students receiving Federal Work-Study financial aid. Public Service Corps internships are for undergraduate and graduate Work-Study students from affiliated colleges and universities both in New York City and across the nation. With more than 30 city agencies participating, students may chose from a myriad of internship opportunities related to their interests.
Each year, more than 1,000 students become Public Service Corps interns, working in diverse areas including but not limited to social work, education, law, accounting, health, and office administration. Public Service Corps interns also help to improve reading skills in NYC's youngest citizens through the "America Reads" federal literacy initiative. Review the Public Service Corps website for more information and forms for participating agencies.
If you have any questions about the program, call the Public Service Corps at 311 or call (212) NEW-YORK if outside of NYC.
Sample of NYC Agencies and Nonprofit Organizations Participating in the Work-Study Program
NYC Administration for Children Services
NYC Assistance Program
NYC Borough Presidents
NYC Department of Health
Health Research Training Program
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
NYC Department of the Aging NYC Department of Education
NYC Department of Buildings
NYC Department of Finance
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
NYC Department of Transportation
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
NYC Police Department
Action Against Hunger
Alliance for Community Enhancement
American Social History/ We Care
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian University for Women Business Executive for National Security
Central American Legal Assistance
Columbia University - Office of Government Relations
Common Ground Community
Doctors Without Borders
Fresh Air Fund
Fund for the City of New York
Human Rights Watch
Hunger Project, The
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Local Initiative Support Corp.
New York Association for New Americans
Pro-Mujer (Programs for Women)
World Policy Institute
If you are interested in an organization and it is not listed above, this does not mean that it is ineligible to participate in the FWS program. Instead, please review the Off-Campus Work-Study Form to confirm whether your organization meets the requirements of the FWS program.
Steps to Take Once You Have Secured a Work-Study Position
Once a student has secured a Work-Study position, the student must obtain an Off-Campus Work-Study Form or by stopping by the Career Services Office in room 420.
Student must have the form signed by the host organization and return it to OCS with:
- A letter confirming the internship on the host organization’s letterhead and
- Confirmation of your Work-Study allocation (e.g., a print-out from SSOL).
Once the form has been signed by OCS, the student must bring the form to Columbia’s Federal Work-Study Payroll Office located at 210 Kent Hall to complete payroll procedures and to obtain paperwork for the host organization.
Federal regulations prohibit retroactive Work-Study salary payments. Therefore, it is critical that Work-Study students take the necessary steps to place themselves on payroll at the beginning of the term in which they are appointed.
For information about the Federal Work-Study program payroll process, please contact: