Have Fun and Earn Extra Money for College with the Federal Work Study Program
The federal government offers a special program to help you pay for your college attendance and can even give you extra money for personal spending. Federal work study provides jobs for both undergraduate and graduate students who exhibit financial need. It helps you earn money to help pay for your college expenses by working on or off campus or performing community service work. So if you thought that you were going to be a starving college student with no way to help you pay for tuition and books, then don’t despair!
What is Federal Work Study?
If you completed the FAFSA and you're eligible for financial aid, then you are eligible to be part of your school's federal work study program. Not every student receives the same amount of financial aid. It is determined by your level of financial need and how much work study money your college has to distribute. You will earn at least the minimum wage, but you might make more depending on how well you work, your previous work experience and if the school has extra money.
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Undergraduate students are paid by the hour, while graduate students are paid either by the hour or by a salary. Most college institutions pay their students once a month, and you are paid directly with a check. You can request to have your check sent directly to your financial aid office to be put towards your tuition, or you can have it automatically deposited into your student checking account. Also, you can not exceed your work hours. That means you can not earn more money than what your federal work study award was, so your employers have to make sure they schedule you appropriately.
Federal work study programs can be administered both on and off campus. If you work on campus you will be working for the university, usually at a bookstore, the cafeteria or in a residence hall. If you work off campus you are usually employed by a non-profit agency or a public organization working with your school. If you do work a considerable distance off campus and you drive, make sure you have student auto insurance.
The Benefits of the Federal Work Study Program
So what are some of the benefits of the federal work study program? We're here to give you a few reasons why work study will benefit you both in college and after college:
- You'll get money to help fund your college expenses
- You can work on campus and become familiar with the students and school policies
- You can work off campus in the surrounding community and help the citizens
- Your employer will give you flexible work hours to work around your class schedule
- Working with other students will increase your communication skills
- Work study income will not effect your future financial aid eligibility
- Future employees are often impressed by students who have work study experience while in college
- You will develop your time-management skills
- Your work study supervisor is an excellent reference to put on your resume
- Academic research shows that students who work at least 20 hours a week while in college get better grades
Who do I Contact?
To become part of the federal work study program you need to contact your school's Work Study Program Director.
How do I Enroll?
To enroll you need to:
- Complete the FAFSA form
- Once the FAFSA is completed you will receive a financial aid award letter which will indicate the gross earnings you will receive for work study
- You can decide to accept the award or decline it
There are no disadvantages to becoming part of the federal work study program while in college. You get paid, you get to interact with fellow students and you gain work experience that will make you a valuable asset to future employers. If a student loan, grant or scholarship doesn't provide enough tuition assistance to you, then always apply to your college's work study program.