what is a work study program

What Is a Work-Study Program?

The decision to go to college would be so much easier if you also didn’t have to stress over how you’re going to pay for it. Thankfully, there are lots of different ways to cover the cost of college tuition, from earning college scholarships and grants to working a side hustle. (Looking for a super simple way to get scholarship money?)

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Another option that should be on your radar? Applying for a work-study program. Along with earning money for college, a work-study program can provide invaluable work experience that will help you score a job after you graduate. 

What is a work-study program and how do you know if you qualify? Read on to find out.

What Is a Work-Study Program?

A work-study program is a federally funded program that helps undergraduate and graduate students pay for college through part-time employment opportunities. Employers who participate in the program typically pay for half of the student’s wages, while the program covers the rest through financial aid. 

Although most work-study jobs are on campus, they can be located off-campus, too. If you’re working on campus, you’ll likely be working for your school in some capacity. 

Benefits of Federal Work-Study Jobs

Why bother applying for a work-study job? Here are a few benefits of scoring a job through a work-study program.

  • Explore Your Chosen Field Most work-study programs try their best to provide students opportunities that relate to their chosen major. Therefore, a work-study job can lowkey serve as a way to explore your major. For example, maybe you end up catching the teaching bug while serving as an assistant to a biology professor and decide to earn your teaching certification. Maybe you realize you’re in the wrong work study programs build resume quotefield. Either way, knowledge is power!
  • Build a Strong Resume – Work-study programs are honestly a great way to build your resume while you’re still in college. The right work-study job can help you gain relevant work experience while developing important soft skills that employers are looking for in job candidates. 
  • Convenience – If you live on campus, you really can’t beat the convenience of having an on-campus job. Most work-study jobs are located on campus, making it much easier to juggle work schedules with class times. And if you ever forget anything in your dorm — like a book or a research paper — you can quickly zip back to your room and still make it to work or class on time. 
  • Meet New People – You’ll likely meet all kinds of interesting people through work-study programs, especially if you have an on-campus job. At the very least, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your professional network, which is arguably one of your most important career-building tools.

How Do I Know if I Qualify?

To be eligible for a work-study job, you first need to apply for financial assistance through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form will eventually ask you if you’d like to be considered for a work-study program. Be sure to confirm that yes, you are definitely interested.

Pro tip: File early! Federal student aid is limited. If you fill out FAFSA early, you’re more likely to get grants and work-study funding. Once that is knocked off your college to-do list, you can focus on applying for need-based scholarships, submitting college applications and finishing the school year strong.

work study programs tuition quoteWill It Cover the Cost of My Tuition?

Not by itself, no. Most work-study programs will only cover a small fraction of the cost of your college tuition. Your work hours also can’t exceed the allotted amount awarded for work-study. If you work overtime, your work-study funding won’t cover it.

But don’t stress! Like we said, there are plenty of other ways to pay for college, such as grants and scholarships. Check out our blog post, Grants vs. Scholarships, to learn more about how they differ and how you can use both to pay for college.

How Do I Get a Work-Study Job?

Contrary to popular belief, qualifying for a work-study job doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get one. It’s actually up to you to find a suitable job that is part of the program and secure your employment. Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult of a task. Many colleges and universities have online job portals that offer work-study opportunities. You can also ask the head of your department if they have open positions that might be a good fit for you.

Work-Study Opportunities FTW

Work-study programs are an amazing opportunity for eligible students. Sure, you still have to put in the hard work to score a job and earn that dough, but there’s more than just money to be gained from a work-study program. With the right job, you can gain valuable experience, meet new people, and expand your career opportunities. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us!

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