How Financial Aid And Work Study Affect Each Other

Side view of student looking through the microscope.

Flickr user Wessex Archaeology

The financial aid package that is offered to most college students typically includes a combination of scholarships / grants—which are free money—and loans, which have to be paid back with interest. In addition to this standard financial aid package, some students also receive work-study options as a part of the total cash award. Not all colleges offer this option, but if you are applying to a college that offers work-study, it is worth considering.

Work-Study and Financial Aid

Work-study programs operate in different ways in different schools but essentially it is an opportunity for students to earn some money to cover college expenses through part-time on-campus (and sometimes off-campus) jobs.

When you opt for work-study in your first year, your earnings for the year are removed from your FAFSA calculation for the following year, which means you reduce the amount of loan that you need to take in the second year. If you continue with the work-study program in the second year, you will further reduce the loan that you will need to take in the third year. By the time you graduate, you will have taken a significantly lower loan amount and will graduate with much less debt than your peers who do not participate in this program. You will have to work harder while you are in college, and learn to balance your time between work and study, but you will reap the rewards of that hard work after you graduate.

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