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Field Work Term Funding

The cost of Field Work Term (FWT) varies greatly depending on the job you select and the housing arrangements you make. Costs can range from nominal (if you live at home for FWT) to $3,000 or more if you need to travel a long distance and pay for your own housing and food. FWT is a separate term from the rest of the academic year. As a result, tuition is not charged for it, and regular academic scholarships do not apply; students are responsible for meeting their own expenses during this period. Use the FWT Budgeting Form to help you plan accordingly.

Some students may reduce housing costs by staying with relatives in other parts of the country, with family or friends of other students, or sharing housing with students who plan to work in the same city. Employers may also be able to offer leads for local low cost housing. See FWT Housing for more ideas. Here are five options to make your FWT more financially feasible:

1. Find Paid Field Work Term Positions

Handshake makes it easy to find paid FWT listings. On the “Jobs” page, filter your search by Co-Op positions to find FWT-specific listings, and click “Paid roles only.”

With Handshake, students can also search among hundreds of summer internship opportunities from employers across the globe, over half of which are paid. Some of these internships could be proposed as Field Work Term options; check with the FWT Office as early as possible to ensure a position is FWT-eligible. Consider booking a "Handshake help" appointment with the FWT staff for help to find paid FWT options.

2. Combine Paid and Unpaid Work

To earn extra money, you can take a part-time job during FWT that isn't connected to your Plan. You are able to use up to 60 hours at such a position towards your 200-hour requirement. These are considered supplemental hours. (See FWT Requirements for details on how to document supplemental hours). 

3. Secure a Private Loan

Understanding that FWT costs vary year to year, if students in a particular year face a gap between available funds and  FWT costs, they may wish to apply for a private loan. Students can receive information on this option from the Office of Financial Aid. Students should be aware that interest rates vary according to lenders, and co-signers may be required.

4. Apply for a Research Grant or Fellowship

Students who have completed at least one FWT have the option of doing Independent Study work (non-credit research or applied field work), supervised by a faculty sponsor. Faculty are not paid to sponsor FWT Independent Study work and are not required to do so. However, some research and applied work may be eligible for private funding through external grants and fellowships.

Returning students are also eligible to apply for several specialized Field Work Term fellowships. In addition to funding, these fellowships offer mentorship and the opportunity to be part of a cohort of students working in specific focus areas. Fellowships are open to returning students (sophomores through seniors) who meet a minimum need threshold and demonstrate strong merit in their applications. Awards typically range from $1,000-$3,000. Fellowship recipients are not eligible to receive other College stipends or grants for the same FWT.

Current Field Work Term Fellowships are as follows:

  • The Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation Fellowship 
  • The Endeavor Foundation Environmental Action Fellowship
  • The Food Insecurity & Population Health Fellowship
  • The Newman and Cox Public Action Student Fellowship
  • The Iftekhar Entrepreneurial Fellowship

All fellowship applications are due October 8, 2021, by 5 pm via Handshake. Feel free to book an advising session for additional support.

5. Obtain a Partial Need-Based Stipend

Students with high financial need (as determined by Financial Aid) will be notified in early October about their potential eligibility for a $500 FWT stipend if they register an unpaid FWT internship. As explained below, students who secure paid internships will not be eligible for stipends.

Recognizing that undocumented students do not have the same access to federal and external funding sources, these students may be considered for increases on a need and merit basis. Please contact fwt@bennington.edu.

Frequently Asked Funding Questions

If I register a paid position, do I lose my $500 stipend? 

Yes, to ensure that the College is reaching the broadest number of students with FWT stipends, these are eligible only to students who register unpaid positions. 

What counts as a paid position? For example, if my employer provides transportation stipend, is this considered paid?

Paid positions are those that pay either through a stipend or through hourly wages the equivalent of minimum wage for 200 hours. To determine eligibility, we consider each student's anticipated pay from employers as detailed on the FWT registration form in Handshake. Therefore, if a student reports a transportation stipend or another form of partial assistance, this would not be considered paid.

Is independent study work eligible for stipends or fellowships?

Yes. Similar to FWT positions, if approved independent study work is unpaid and unfunded, need-eligible students will receive FWT stipends. However, because some independent study work can be completed at home, students will be asked to specify why they need to complete their work in a certain location and to fill out a FWT budgeting form as part of the registration process.

If I receive a need based stipend, can I also get a merit fellowship? If I receive a fellowship, do I have to give up the stipend?

In an effort to broadly distribute awards to the maximum number of students, there is a limit of one award per student—meaning either a stipend OR a fellowship, not both. However, in the majority of cases fellowship funding is intended to fully fund (or nearly fully fund) students with qualifying financial need. 

What qualifies as high need?

To understand their financial need ranking in context, students are encouraged to direct inquiries to financialaid@bennington.edu. In broad terms, high need students receive aid packages of $50,000 or more per year.