How COVID Affects Work Study Jobs

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, colleges across the U.S. have shut down their campuses. Faculty are conducting virtual classes from their own homes. These total campus shut-downs are preventing students from performing their work study jobs and getting paid. Many students depend on this additional income to help them get by.

If you had a work-study job before the campus closures, here’s what you need to know.

Student doing remote work study on her laptop.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Stand on Work-Study

The DoE understands that most participating students depend on this income. Also, the inability to continue working is not the student’s fault. They are allowing colleges to continue using federal funds to pay students who held work-study jobs prior to the COVID outbreak. This is even if the campus has closed down and students are unable to continue performing their jobs.

Where possible, colleges are encouraged to allow student employees to continue working remotely. If working remotely is not a possibility in their current position, colleges may modify their duties to allow for remote work.

The Department of Education also issued guidelines with regards to the compensation. They’ve asked colleges to pay students fully for the hours they’ve worked or would have worked if it wasn’t for COVID-19.

Students who have used up their work-study award can appeal to have it increased.

What’s important to note is that the way it is being carried out is not the same across the board. These are just ‘optional provisions’ for now. The DoE has left the final decision up to individual colleges. This means colleges and universities are implementing the guidelines differently.


How Different Colleges Are Implementing the Work-Study Guidelines

Many colleges have decided not to make any changes to the work-study program. They will continue to pay students, even if they are no longer able to work in their jobs. This decision will be effective for the remainder of their work-study allotment.

Where possible, colleges are allowing students to work remotely so they remain eligible for their work-study funding.

Not all colleges are being so generous though. Some have sent out letters to students asking them not to report to work. They have not made any work from home arrangements either and are not paying laid-off work study students. Colleges that are not paying claim that they just do not have the funds to continue to pay students who are unable to continue with their jobs.

One Tip Going Forward

Keep an eye of FAFSA deadlines and apply for Federal work-study jobs as early as possible. This will increase your chances of securing a work-study job when campuses open up.

Also be sure to look into COVID-19 specific aid available to many college students.

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