Work-Study vs. Part-Time Jobs


work-studyWork-study is a kind of financial aid that helps students earn funds they can use for their education. It’s money you don’t have to pay back but it is definitely also money you have to work for. Work-study is federally-funded but administered by your own school and is, in essence, a guaranteed part-time job where you will earn at least the federal minimum wage for the duration of your work-study award.

How to apply

The program is based on financial need and students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify. Once you file the FAFSA, the federal government and your school will decide if you will be awarded any work-study as part of your financial aid package. If you are awarded work-study, it will appear on your award letter.

How does it function?

Work-study is, in essence, a part-time job on campus that helps you earn money, which is meant to help you pay for your higher education. If possible, the program seeks to employ you doing something related to your field of study, but that is up to the institution to facilitate. If you’re an English major, for example, you may end up working in the library. How many hours you work, or any other restrictions, are also set by the school.

Not awarded work-study

Sure, you just won’t be guaranteed to get one. Instead you’ll have to apply to each employer individually as a general applicant, just as you would if you were applying for a job off-campus. Your best bet is to try applying at places that hire lots of students, like the cafeteria or the library. Also, food outlets, coffee carts, bookstores, et cetera, are often independent from the university and therefore have their own hiring practices. However, the key here is applying early. Lots of students want on-campus jobs, so it pays to apply first.

Finding a job on campus

Consider, then, working part-time on-campus, which allows you the freedom to work as you want, which helps you earn the money you need. The best part? You don’t need a work-study award as part of your financial aid package to find a job on campus.

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