What is a Federal Work Study Program?

What is federal work study?

Work study is a way for students, like the ones pictured, to get more aid by working for the college.

Flickr user Moresheth

A Federal Work Study (FWS) program is a form of aid that requires the student to work part-time while enrolled in school. The work is administered by the school’s financial aid office, so long as they are participating in the FWS Program. Students should work with the financial aid office to find a work study program for them.

What kind of work?

The work is typically centered around community and civic education, or, if possible, related to whatever the student is studying in school. Since the student is currently in school, the work is part-time. Some jobs will be on campus–usually working directly for the school–and other jobs will be off-campus–typically for nonprofits or public interest.

What does it pay?

FWS programs pay at least the current Federal minimum wage, though it can award more than that. There are multiple factors detailing how much money a student will be awarded during the program, including: when the student applies, level of financial need, how well the school is funded.

How is it paid?

For undergraduate students, the pay is hourly. For graduate and professional students, the pay can be either hourly or salary depending on the specific program. The “paycheck” comes at the very least once a month. The student can request the money go directly to their bank account or go towards outstanding school fees like tuition or room and board.

Who gets priority?

FWS program opportunities are usually awarded on a first-come first-serve basis, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible. Beyond that, priority is given to students who will be working within their field of study, or to students who qualify for highly-skilled jobs.

How do you apply?

Students must fill out the FAFSA and meet all of the eligibility requirements. On the FAFSA itself, the student should check “yes” to the question: are you interested in student employment? On top of that, there might be additional financial paperwork the schools has a student fill out. Visit the school’s financial aid office for more information or to check your qualifications.

Is doing a work study worth it?

There are always pros and cons to anything, the same goes with FWS programs. On the plus side, a work study is a great way to earn work experience, network with professional contacts, and of course earn money to ease financial strain due to college costs. Of course, the time spent working is time that the student isn’t studying or working on projects. How your paycheck works into your financial aid and work study can be a little confusing as well.

Allison Wignall

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