State Work Study

Since 1974, the Washington State Work Study (SWS) program has helped low- and middle-income students earn money for college and gain experience in areas related to their degrees or career interests.

SWS provides opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students to pay part of their college costs now rather than deferring those costs in the form of added loan debt. Research indicates that students who work between 10 and 19 hours per week tend to persist in their degree programs at higher rates than other financially needy students.

Students graduating with job-ready skills and competitive resumes are more likely to find employment that contributes to Washington’s future economic growth. Employers gain access to a well-educated and highly motivated pool of workers who help them operate more productively.

By reimbursing a portion of student wages, the state incents employers to participate while leveraging taxpayer resources by 40 percent. Nearly 1,000 employers gain access to cost-effective, part-time help from motivated students eager to utilize their classroom learning in real world work situations.

A total of 56 colleges participate in SWS, including all of the state's public two-year and four-year colleges and universities, along with many independent non-profit colleges. For a current list of participating colleges, please click on the “Resources” tab below.

The Legislature has provided $7.8 million in SWS funding per year in the 2013-15 operating budget.  Since 2009, amidst a challenging state budget environment, program funding has been reduced by 66 percent. Steps to limit the resulting impact on needy resident students include restricting student eligibility to Washington residents only and increasing the share of student wages paid by employers. In 2012-13, nearly 4,800 students were served by SWS.

SWS information for students and families can be found on our partner site,

Want to become a participating SWS employer? Please click on the "Employers" tab below for instructions.

Need access to program-specific information or frequently used forms? Please click on the "Resources" or "Forms" tabs below.


Thank you for your interest in the State Work Study (SWS) program!  We invite you to join nearly 1,000 currently participating employers already seeing the unique benefits of employing SWS eligible students, including:

Previewing talent - Hire college students with the cutting-edge skills your organization needs now while potentially finding ideal post-graduation employees

Shaping the workforce -Train and mentor college students and help ensure graduates have the skills Washington employers need

Saving money while getting more work done - Partial wage reimbursements of up to 70 percent help offset costs, more work you need accomplished gets done, and potentially save on future recruitment and hiring costs if student employees are retained after graduation

To participate:

  • Determine the kind of work you need performed and the necessary qualifications.
  • Contact a participating college or university – a list of colleges is provided under the “Resources” tab.
  • Working with the college, complete and return the Employer Contract and Profile form and the Student Job Description as provided under the “Forms” tab.
  • Once the contract and job are approved, interview students with confirmed SWS eligibility.
  • Work directly with colleges to hire, train, and pay students for hours worked, submit timesheets to colleges for partial reimbursement of gross wages.