A Guide to Student Work-Study Programs

What are Work-Study Programs?

The Federal Work-Study program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and subsidizes part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students who have financial need.  These programs are a great way to earn extra money for school, gain valuable work experience, and contribute to your community.  Many available work-study jobs are for on-campus work, but some students work off-campus for private businesses.  In most cases, your school will try to match you with a job that relates to your area of study whenever possible.  The number of hours you work each week will vary based upon your work-study award, your class schedule, and your academic progress.

How Much Can Students Earn Through Work-Study Programs?

The amount of money you can earn through a work-study job varies depending on your job, your financial need, and when you apply.  All students participating in the work-study program will earn at least minimum wage, but you can earn more depending upon the type of work you are doing and the skills your job requires.  Undergraduate students are paid by the hour, while graduate students are sometimes paid a salary.  Students with greater financial need are usually offered a higher award amount.

Payments will be made directly to you at least once a month.  If you prefer, you can sign up to have your earnings direct deposited into your bank account.  Students who apply for the work-study program early usually receive a larger award and are more likely to find employment through the program.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Work-Study Programs?

Your eligibility for work-study programs is based upon financial need.  The amount of money you qualify for will be determined based upon the amount you are expected to contribute to your education and the estimated cost of attendance.  If you qualify for other types of financial aid such as Pell Grant and federal loans, you will also qualify for work-study.

How Can Students Apply for Work-Study Programs?

Students can apply for work-study programs by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  You can pick up paper copies of the FAFSA at your schools financial aid office or you can fill out an application online.  The FAFSA requires information about your earnings from the previous years, your parent’s earnings from the previous year, and the total number of people living in your household.

The information you provided on your FAFSA will determine whether or not you are eligible for financial aid.  Your financial aid package will likely include several different types of aid, including Pell Grants, loans, and work-study awards.  Once you have been approved for a work-study award, contact your school about employment opportunities.  Counselors advise that work-study positions are in high demand, so apply early for the best chance at finding a work-study job.