What Students Should Know About Federal Work-Study

Work-study programs are federally funded programs that allow both undergraduate and graduate students with financial need to work part-time jobs while enrolled in school. It’s a great way to earn money to pay off those financial expenses while gaining valuable work experience! According to the U.S. Department of Education, around 3,400 universities and colleges currently take part in the Federal Work-Study program. Let’s dive into more details about what you should know about this opportunity!

You can only be awarded work-study as a financial aid option after filling out your FAFSA.
Federal work-study is one of the official federal financial aid options, so like grants and loans, it’s based on financial need as represented in your FAFSA application. Schools are allowed limited funds for work-study programs, so it’s important to fill out and send your FAFSA in as soon as possible to get a spot before funds run out.

You’ll likely be responsible for securing your own work-study job.
Once you’re approved, you’ll have to find a job that qualifies for the program. Universities will often have job boards online or on campus for both eligible on-campus jobs and off-campus jobs. On-campus jobs can consist of research assistantships, administrative jobs, working in the library, and other departmental positions. Off-campus jobs can consist of working for non-profit organizations or private companies associated with the university or college. Colleges with current on-campus restrictions due to COVID-19 may even offer remote work-study options as well!

You can only earn as much as your financial aid award allows.
When you qualify for work-study after filling out your FAFSA, you will be given an allocated award amount that you can earn that you won’t be able to exceed unless your employer decides otherwise. For example, if your award amount is $3,000, you can work as many hours as needed until you reach that amount, but will not be able to earn more unless otherwise determined by individual employers. The award amount will be based on financial need and your school’s allocated funds. Most jobs offer a rate of at least minimum wage to undergraduate students, but graduate students can receive salaries as well.

There are three ways to get paid.
Students can get paid via check, direct deposit, or have the money credited to their school account to pay for tuition, materials, and room and board. There is no requirement for how students choose to use the funds. If you receive the funds via check or direct deposit, you can use them for day-to-day living costs. The choice is up to you!

Work-study is not guaranteed year-to-year.
So it’s important to get that FAFSA out as soon as possible in order to increase your chances of being awarded! To learn more about specific awarding criteria, contact your school’s financial department.

Accolade Financial is here to help when it comes to students’ financial success! Reach out to us today to learn more and get started!