Funding Your FWT

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. Use the FWT Budgeting Form to help you plan accordingly.

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. Some students elect to live at home during a FWT, but if you choose otherwise, 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 an appointment with the FWT staff for help using Handshake 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). 

Because the FWT 200-hour requirement is based on approximately 30 hours per week for six weeks, you also have time for almost 10 hours a week to go towards additional part-time work if needed, and still be within a 40 hour week.

3. Apply for a Research Grant or Fellowship

Juniors and seniors have the option of doing non-credit research or applied field work, supervised by a faculty sponsor, to count for one FWT. 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 (3rd-term through 7th-term) 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:

All fellowship applications are due by Friday, October 11, 2019 at 5:00 pm via Handshake. Please review the fellowship details and applications instructions on each Handshake listing above, and feel free to book an advising session for additional support.

4. Obtain a Partial Need-Based Grant

Partial FWT grants are available for students with demonstrated high financial need as documented in financial aid records. Students should be aware that need-based grants are modest and typically do not fully cover the cost of FWT. Students with need eligibility can apply via the online grant application after registering a secured Field Work Term, but no later than November 15.

To further support their resource needs, students should consider working supplemental hours and/or staying in a location with free/low cost housing to further subsidize costs. You can cut your 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.

5. 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, finaid@bennington.edu. Students should be aware that interest rates vary according to lenders, and co-signers may be required.

Frequently Asked Funding Questions

If I receive a need based stipend, can I also get a merit based 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 students. All returning students are encouraged to apply for fellowships, which are awarded based on both need and merit factors. However, students awarded fellowships cannot also receive grants or stipends.

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.

If I register a paid position that does not fully meet my costs, can I still get a grant or stipend?

Understanding that wage or stipend pay may not fully meet FWT costs, in an effort to broadly distribute a limited resource pool, grants are limited to students who register unpaid positions.

Is independent study work eligible for stipends and grants?

Similar to FWT positions, if approved independent study work is unpaid and unfunded, need-eligible students are encouraged to apply for grants. However, the budget should clearly explain why living and travel costs are needed, such as why the independent work could not be conducted at home or in a location with free housing.