The Center for Life Beyond Reed, Division of Student Services

Off-Campus Federal Work-Study

Nonprofit organizations


In order to promote connections between Reed College and the Portland community, Reed College subsidizes an off-campus federal work-study program (FWS). This program allows motivated students to work in paid internships with Portland nonprofits, public schools and public agencies as one way to earn their federal work-study awards. The goal of these internships is to complement a student's educational environment with an off-campus service learning experience.

Who is eligible for a FWS internship?

Students who are on financial aid and have a FWS allocation listed on their award announcement are eligible. Please note that there is sometimes a waitlist for FWS, particularly during the spring semester.

Who hosts FWS internships?

Organizations with current or pending 501.c.3 tax status are potentially eligible.  Programs in the public sector (public schools, local government, etc.) may also host FWS interns.  Programs must provide a community service designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income individuals, or to solve particular problems related to their needs.  Reed FWS interns may not participate in fundraising, political activities, or proselytizing activities.

The Student’s Process
Getting Started with a Partner Organization

  1. Confirm that you qualify for FWS funds. Call, email, or visit the financial aid office: 503/777-7223,, Eliot 202. 
  2. View current opportunities. Search our find an opportunity page for SEEDS programs led by SEEDS student interns and/or search Beyond Reed's Symplicity database
  3. Contact an organization and follow their application procedures. This may include an application form, a letter of interest, resume, an interview, etc.  For support in preparing your application, please contact career advising staff in the Center for Life Beyond Reed:, 503/777-7550, Prexy.
  4. If hired by the organization, complete and submit two contracts to the Financial Aid office: 1) Learning Contracts are available at SEEDS in the Center for Life Beyond Reed as well as the Financial Aid office, or you can download a 2014-2015 Learning Contract. 2) A Student Agreement will be delivered to your campus mailbox after you turn in the Learning Contract. 

  5. Complete I-9 and W-4 tax forms with Student Employment Specialist, Dawn Derry (, in the business office.

Note: You will not be paid for any hours worked prior to completing all required paperwork. Retroactive pay is also not an option. Any work done before paperwork completion is unpaid volunteer work.

Getting Started with a Non-partner Organization

Working with a non-partner organization can take longer to set up.  For that reason, students are encouraged to prioritize our partner organizations.  If you didn’t find the kind of work you are looking for in the posted opportunities, you can still earn your FWS award at another organization, provided it meets the required criteria.  Contact SEEDS to learn more about working for non-partner organizations.

Questions? Email SEEDS Coordinator, Meredith Dickinson:

Finishing up

At the end of the year, the SEEDS office suggests that FWS students fill out an evaluation with their FWS site supervisor during an exit interview. We ask for feedback on your placements so SEEDS and the Center for Life Beyond Reed can learn more about the organizations where students worked and pass that information on to future volunteers. It is also beneficial to ask for a letter of recommendation from your supervisor if it was a positive experience.

Nonprofit organizations

Reed College, with assistance from the federal government, spends thousands of dollars a year paying students to work for nonprofits, public schools and public agencies within the larger Portland community. The information below will help organizations decide if they are a potential site for a Reed federal work-study (FWS) internship and tell how to participate in the program.

Who is eligible for a FWS internship?

with current or pending 501.c.3 tax status are potentially eligible. Programs in the public sector such as public schools or local government, may also host FWS interns. Programs must provide a community service designed to improve the quality of life for community residents, particularly low-income people, or to solve particular problems related to their needs. Internship hosts must offer positions in direct service, education, or project development, rather than only clerical work. Work that entails fundraising or furthering political or religious agendas is not eligible. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact the SEEDS office.

Students who are on financial aid and have a FWS allocation listed on their award announcement are eligible. Once students' wages have exceeded their FWS eligibility for the academic year (often after 50-100 hours of work), they must wait until the following year to continue participation. Sometimes students will continue their work as volunteers when their FWS allocation is exhausted. In some cases, agencies have chosen to hire interns so they can continue making a valuable contribution.

What can be expected of Reed FWS interns?

Interns usually work from 2 to 10 hours per week, although some may wish to work more hours and others will need time off during exam periods and holidays. New hires will require training, but many already possess Macintosh computer skills, basic research skills, and good communication skills. Most interns have prior experience in community service and are thoughtful and reliable.

What are agencies required to do for their interns?
  • Meet with intern to identify responsibilities, supervision & learning outcomes.
  • Provide a job description detailing roles and responsibilities of the intern.
  • Provide your intern(s) with the training, ongoing supervision, support, and feedback they need to be effective in their job.
  • Submit a bi-weekly time sheet, detailing the student's hours worked, directly to Reed College’s Student Payroll Specialist, Dawn Derry:
  • Inform SEEDS of any hiring or firing decisions, and communicate about noteworthy successes or problems.
  • Contribute to evaluations regarding your intern & your program.
  • Provide background checks for Reed students before any unsupervised, direct contact with minors occurs. Contact if you're in need of assistance in order to comply with this policy.
What does Reed do?

The SEEDS office in the Center for Life Beyond Reed as well as the financial aid office identifies prospective internship sites, assembles job and program descriptions, promotes the FWS program to students, and makes referrals to internships for interested students. Once you and your intern have agreed to work together, Reed's financial aid and student payroll offices become involved. SEEDS would appreciate hearing about any problems or joys that you have in supervising your FWS student, as we want this process to be smooth and beneficial for all concerned.

How do I get one of these interns?
  • Contact the SEEDS office if you are not already a host site.
  • If you are a host site, SEEDS will promote these positions, and you may begin to get emails/calls from interested students. You can mail your application to students, or simply have them complete one at an interview. You have complete control over hiring and firing of interns within the confines of employment law. We do recommend that you interview them in person.
  • The supervisor and intern must fill out a Learning Contract that will clarify objectives throughout the internship. This document can also be helpful in directing the types of experiences and training provided.
  • After the student has provided the financial aid office with a signed Learning Contract, the financial aid office will write a Student Agreement contract for the student to sign and return to financial aid.
  • Reed will sign these contract forms and send copies to the agency, the student, and to the student payroll office. Students cannot be paid for work completed before Reed has signed these forms.
  • Finally, the student payroll office will mail a letter that includes instructions and time sheets for the intern's wage payment. Reed will pay 100 percent of the student's wages and workers' compensation insurance.
How can Reed do this?

Since its beginning, the federal work-study program has recommended that colleges allow students to use their FWS money to work off-campus in community service positions. In 1994 the government amended the federal work-study legislation to require that schools spend 5 percent of their total allocation on community service positions. This allocation increased to 7 percent in 2000-01. We expect to support over 75 students working in such positions this coming year. Some schools require off-campus employers to pay up to 25 percent of FWS student wages, Reed continues to pay FWS community service interns' wages and worker's compensation insurance in full.

If you have any further questions please communicate with SEEDS via email.

Thank you for your interest!