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The UK Work-Study Research Assistant Program (WRAP) is designed to help federal work-study (FWS) eligible students develop research skills and explore their academic interests. Research and creative scholarship experiences develop transferable skills and can change the course of a student’s academic and/or professional career. Our expectation is that the research assistant will be substantively engaged in a faculty member’s research and creative endeavors. 


Program Questions? 

Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at or 859-257-0049 with any questions about the program.


Federal Work-Study Questions?

Please contact the Federal Work-Study Office at with any questions about FWS eligibility, awards, resources, and other program-related issues.


  1. The typical work-study research assistant would work approximately 150 hours in the fall semester, and 150 hours in the spring semester. These numbers are based on the typical work-study award amount and the student averaging 10 hours per week for 15 weeks.

  2. The distribution of the hours of work is flexible within each semester, with the ability to roll hours forward from fall to spring, but not beyond the final day for 2023-24 work-study (tentatively May 5, 2024). However, it is expected that the workload will take the student’s academic schedule into consideration and be predictable from week to week. An even distribution of hours would be approximately 7-10 hours per week during regular classes. If you are interested in participating in the program, it is important to ensure that you will have 7-10 hours/week of appropriate tasks for your research assistant.

  3. Work-study and the university will pay 100% of the student’s wages up to the dollar limit of their awards (e.g. $3,500 for the academic year). Work-study pays 83% with the remaining 17% coming from other funding sources (e.g. OUR Awards, faculty funds, College/departmental funds).  If you wish to continue to pay the student for additional work (and their schedule permits) beyond their FWS award, you would be responsible for 100% of the wages and would need to make the relevant payroll arrangements with the UK Work-Study office at

  4. You have control over the hiring process. You edit the job advertisement, you review the candidates, you interview the candidates, and you choose to hire the research assistant. The only constraint is that the student must have a 2023-24 work-study award. 

  5. The goal of this program is to help federal work-study (FWS) eligible students develop research skills and interests. Research experiences develop transferable skills and can change the course of a student’s academic and/or professional career. Our expectation is that the research assistant will be substantively engaged in your research - these are not to be exclusively clerical or lab upkeep positions.




For a student to be eligible for the UK Work-Study Research Assistant Program (WRAP), he/she must:

  • File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and be determined to have financial need. A new FAFSA must be submitted every year to continue to receive Federal Work-Study (FWS).  Check the financial aid website for deadlines. 

  • Have FWS awarded on the student's financial aid package. This can be found in the myUK Financial portal.

  • Be an undergraduate student.

  • Be enrolled at least part-time (at least 6 credit hours per semester).

  • Be a U.S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen.

  • Be achieving Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

  • Not be in default on a student loan.

  • Submit all documents required by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship.

  • Not work more than one FWS job simultaneously.

  • Be supported by only ONE Office of Undergraduate Research program at a time. A student may not simultaneously be supported as a Work-Study Research Assistant and Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Award. However, all students are eligible to participate in non-paid activities and events, such as Showcase, 5-Minute Fast Track Competition, and Oswald Research and Creativity Competition. 



  1. Submit Work-Study Research Assistant Job Posting to Federal Work Study Office They will create the job posting and provide access link to each mentor.

  2. Review the student applications and conduct interviews of finalists (either in-person or virtual is fine). 

  3. Discuss your expectations with the research assistant and supervise his/her work.

  4. Regularly review a time-tracking spreadsheet to ensure your assistant's work hours are reported accurately. Note that all payroll and timekeeping processes will be managed by your department staff - these will not be the responsibility of OUR staff.

  5. Federal regulations state that students cannot work during any scheduled class times. If a class is canceled, the student is required to provide supporting documentation prior to working. Student workers must provide a current class schedule at the beginning of each semester to their faculty mentor or department to avoid conflict with work scheduling. 

  6. Submit a brief report at the end of each semester on your Research Assistant’s work by December 18, 2023 and May 18, 2023.  Feedback from faculty on how the program is working is essential to the development and modification of this program for future years.




  • I-9 Drug-Free Workplace Certificate

  • W-4 Tax Form or ESS

  • Completed Job Assignment Form

  • Completed Direct Deposit form or ESS

  • Student Information Sheet 



  • Completed Job Assignment Form 

  • Student Information Sheet 

  • W-4 information if necessary via ESS

  • Update direct deposit information if their account has changed



Students will receive FWS pay via direct deposit every two weeks according to the number of hours worked and submitted to the FWS Office. FWS earnings do not directly credit a student's billing statement for University charges.

Go to UK Federal Work Study website for details



1. What will I be paid?

This depends on the position and what the standard wage for research assistantships in a particular center, lab, or department is.  Most Research Assistantships average between $8.50 - $10/hour and go up from there depending on experience. Hours vary, but cannot exceed 20 hours per week (including any other UK employment you may have).


2. Do I need research experience to get one of these jobs?

In most cases, no. The very purpose of this program is to give you a first experience in research and to make it worth your time. Your main qualifications are your FWS eligible status, your curiosity, and your willingness to learn.


3. What will I be doing as an undergraduate research employee?

The truth is, you could be doing just about anything from cataloging old photographs in UK’s Special Collections to collecting samples of pollen in Red River Gorge. You might find yourself working in a lab, but you could also be helping a music professor stage an opera or a Special Education Ph.D. student run a behavioral clinic. UK’s undergraduate researchers are found all over UK's local and statewide campuses, at extension centers, and in the field.


4. I indicated on my FAFSA that I was interested in FWS. Does that mean I am eligible for the UK WRAP program?

No. In order to be eligible a student must

  1. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority deadline published on the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarship’s website. If randomly selected for verification, all verification forms with appropriate income tax documentation must be submitted. Any other documentation requirements not associated with verification must also be completed. Returning students must complete this procedure each academic year.

  1.  be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.

  2. demonstrate financial need. 

  3. be a degree-seeking student enrolled at least half-time (i.e., no less than 6 eligible credit hours).

  4. be working towards completion of their first undergraduate degree.

  5. be maintaining UK’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy.


5. What are the minimum and maximums number of hours a student can work?

There is not a minimum number of hours a student can work; however, students cannot exceed 20 hours per week. 


Learn More about Federal Work Study

The Office of Undergraduate Research collaborates with the UK Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships' Federal Work-Study team to allow students to use federal work-study funds to support undergraduate research assistants for University of Kentucky faculty.