Federal Work Study Programs & Why They’re Great for Students

January 30, 2012 Category: College Scholarships and Grants

Trying to afford college is a challenge faced by virtually every student hoping to earn a degree. A common solution many students turn to is getting a job to help pay for school. If you’re a current college student or are in the early stages of submitting to colleges and universities, it may be in your best interest to see if a federal work study program could be the answer to your financial aid problems.

What is a Federal Work Study Program?

As the name implies, students enrolled in a federal work study program are able to attend school as well as find employment part-time. The funds earned are ideal for helping students pay for college-related expenses (tuition and fees, textbooks, rent, school supplies, etc). The types of jobs assigned to students in this program varies but could include performing community service tasks through a public or non-profit organization or working on campus at the cafeteria, student cafe, bookstore, etc. Doing well in the job you’ve been assigned could result in better pay, although most students typically start out making minimum wage. Undergraduate students are typically paid by the hour, while graduate students may qualify for a salaried job.

How to Be Considered

Participating in a federal work study program isn’t available to all students. In order to be considered, the first step is for students to complete the FAFSA. After a student’s financial need has been calculated by the FAFSA, a decision can then be made as to how much an individual can receive in financial aid. Because of this, the actual amount of financial assistance a student could receive through a federal work study program ranges widely. Another factor that is taken into consideration is how much money the school you’ll be attending has to offer.

In terms of hours, the program ensures that students are not given a work schedule that will interfere with their studies and class schedule. According to the federal work study policy, students in the program are not allowed to work more hours than is set for them.

How Do I Get Paid?

As with any regular job, student employees are paid by check. The payment schedule depends on the employer, school and federal work study program in place. However, most schools schedule their payments to students once a month. It is important to remember that the money earned through this type of program is to help pay for school related expenses. Because of this, it is in a student’s best interest to have their checks direct deposited into a special account reserved just for financial aid purposes. Students can also request to have their money sent to their school’s financial aid office, where it can be applied directly to their tuition and fees.

Where Do I Start?

Aside from filling out the FAFSA, students interested in a federal work study program will want to contact the Program Director at their school who is in charge of the work study program to get more details.

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