What is a Federal Work Study Program?

What is federal work study?

A Federal work study program 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) requires the student to work part-time while enrolled in school. FWS is a form of federal aid. In this scenario, students gain work experience and fund their education while doing so. The school’s financial aid office administers the work, so long as they are participating in the Federal Work Study Program. The financial aid office assists students to find the right program for them.

What kind of work?

The work centers around community and civic education, or, if possible, is related to whatever the student is studying in school. Since the student is currently in school, the work is part-time. Additionally, some on-campus jobs–usually working directly for the school–and other jobs will be off-campus–typically for nonprofits or public interest. These jobs are ideal for a busy college student to make money while undertaking a busy schedule.

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What does it pay?

FWS programs pay at least the current federal minimum wage, though it can award more than that. Additionally, multiple factors detail how much money a student will be awarded during the program. Factors include 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. Additionally, the student may request the money goes directly to their bank account. Additionally, another option is for the money to 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. Additionally, students qualifying for highly-skilled jobs get priority. However, be careful in filling out the form thoroughly and accurately.

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? Additionally, some schools require additional paperwork for a student to 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. Earning money eases financial strain due to college costs. On the other hand, 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.

For more information on financing your college education, read more informative articles and use the virtual tools available on the College Raptor website.


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