Work-study is a program run by the federal government that provides college students who are in need of financial assistance with assistance in finding part-time work.

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Work-study is a program that enables college students who are in financial need to find part-time work. It is supported by the federal government and in some cases by the states.

It will not cover all of your education expenditures; in addition to personal savings, scholarships, grants, and student loans, you will need a combination of these; but, it is useful for students who are eligible to receive it.

According to Megan FitzGibbon, who manages state scholarship programs at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, “Work experience at any level while you’re in college is going to be a benefit.”

“Work experience” can refer to any type of employment. “Most especially in the event that it is connected to your degree.”

What Is Work Study?

Work-study positions allow undergraduate and graduate students to work part-time, either on or off campus, while they are enrolled in classes.

Students at the undergraduate and graduate levels who are in need of financial assistance are eligible to receive part-time work via the Federal Work-Study program.

These students are able to earn money to care of their educational needs..

Federal Work-Study FAQ

  • In order to determine your eligibility, you will need to complete out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • In most cases, it is up to the student to find their own jobs as part of the work-study program. Even while your financial assistance package indicates that you are eligible for work-study, this does not necessarily ensure that you will be offered a position.
  • The United States Department of Education reports that approximately 3,400 colleges and universities participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. However, this does not mean that all schools participate. You should inquire about the availability of work-study programs at the financial aid departments of the colleges that are of interest to you.

How To Apply For Federal Work-Study

Check the application process for the federal work-study program below.

If you want to be considered for work-study funding, make sure to check the option on the FAFSA application that says you want to be considered for work-study. You need to submit your FAFSA application as soon as you can since some forms of financial aid are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The selection of this option does not obligate you to accept work-study funding if it is included in your financial aid package, nor does it guarantee that a work-study option will be included in your financial aid package in the event that you select it.

After submitting your FAFSA, you will receive a financial aid award that details the percentages of loans, scholarships, and work-study funds that you are qualified to receive.

This could take a few weeks or months. Colleges determine whether students are eligible for work-study funding by considering the student’s financial needs, the availability of funds, and their eligibility for other forms of financial help.

Even while your financial aid award letter might indicate that there is a certain amount of money set aside for work-study (for example, $5,000), this does not necessarily ensure that you will get that money. First, you need to find a job that qualifies for work-study, and then you need to put in the required number of hours at that employment.

Do I Have To Accept Work-Study Aid?

You have the option to decline the award if work-study funding is included in your financial aid package but you do not intend to use it.

However, finding a job through a work-study program is generally a smart option. This is especially true if the employer allows you to borrow less money for student loans and reduces the total amount of debt you will have after graduation.

“We would much rather have our students turn to grants, work-study, or any other form of aid before they turn to loans,” says Austin Gentry, an admissions advisor at New Mexico State University. “We would much rather have our students turn to grants, work-study, or any other source of aid.”

Where To Find An Eligible Work-Study Job

After you have been given the chance to participate in work-study, the next step is to locate a job that meets the requirements of the program.

On-campus jobs make up a significant portion of work-study opportunities and can take the form of research assistantships, administrative work in a campus office, or jobs in the library.

Off-campus positions with charitable organizations or for-profit businesses may also be available through the work-study program. Community service occupations, like as tutoring, child care, and health care, make up a percentage of the work-study program’s available roles.

Students are encouraged to submit applications for work-study jobs that are relevant to their area of study, which may be found on the online job boards that are provided by many educational institutions. Work-study employment typically allows for more adaptable scheduling, which makes it much simpler to juggle work and school commitments.

In most cases, the maximum amount of money that can be earned through work-study is limited to the amount that is specified in the student’s financial aid award; however, certain businesses allow for exceptions.

For instance, if your scholarship allotted $5,000 for work-study, you would be able to earn that amount by putting in as many hours as were necessary to do so. Suppose, however, that you attained that total with only two weeks remaining in the semester. According to Gentry, it is dependent on the employer as to whether or not they will enable you to continue working for the duration of the semester and earn more than what is allotted to you.

Average Work-Study Award

You are guaranteed to receive at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour if you have a job via the work-study program. If the minimum pay in your state is higher than the federal minimum wage, then you will earn at least the federal minimum wage.

According to the annual Sallie Mae report titled “How America Pays for College,” the typical work-study award for a student who had a job that qualified for the program was worth $1,531 in the year 2022. According to the findings of the analysis, twenty percent of all households utilized work-study as part of an overall strategy to pay for college.

How Does Work-Study Pay?

You have the option of receiving payment in the form of a check, a direct deposit or have the money credited to your school account to cover things like tuition, fees, or room and board. You can choose any of these options.

There is no necessity that you use the money for anything in particular; FitzGibbon notes that many students use their work-study paychecks to meet their day-to-day living expenses. However, there is no requirement that you use the money for anything in particular.

Does Work-Study Affect Future Financial Aid?

Your earnings from work-study are taxable, and you are required to disclose them in two different areas on your FAFSA application for the next academic year. First, when you report the total revenue you earned from work during that year, you must include any money you earned through your work-study program.

Second, one of the subsequent questions will ask you how much money you made through your work-study program the year before. Also, fill out this form because the money you earn via work-study won’t be factored into the calculation that determines how much financial aid you will be eligible for the following academic year.


Please complete the FAFSA form. Applications can be submitted beginning October 1, 2021, for the academic year 2022-2023. If you have already been accepted into the work-study program, your college should be able to provide you with a list of available jobs.

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