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. 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 low-income 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 provides opportunities 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 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 incentivizes participation by employers 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 nonprofit colleges. A list of participating colleges can be found in the “Resources” box to the right. SWS information for students and families can be found on our partner site,


Thank you for your interest in the State Work Study (SWS) program. We invite you to join nearly 1,000 currently participating employers already reaping the unique benefits of employing SWS-eligible students. When you employ an SWS student, you get to: 

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

Shape the workforce. Train and mentor college students, ensuring graduates have the skills Washington employers need. 

Save money and get more work done. Partial wage reimbursements of up to 70 percent help offset costs. This means more work gets done at lower cost. You could also 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 in the Resources box above.
  • Working with the college, complete and return the Employer Contract and Profile form and the Student Job Description as provided in the Forms section below.
  • 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.