What Is A Work Study Program?

Work Study ProgramRecipients of a financial aid package might notice a work study grant as part of their overall award, which leads to the question, “What is a work-study program?” Designed to give students a bit of added income as their pursue their college degrees, the Federal Work Study Program was designed specifically as a partnership between the federal government and more than 3,400 colleges and universities across the country which are both private and publicly funded. The program comes with a few unique components that are designed to assist with university budgets, ensure students have adequate study time, and help students maintain steady employment during their graduate or undergraduate work.

Students Must Demonstrate Financial Need to Qualify

The Federal Work Study Program is one of several government financial aid efforts that is made available only to those students who have demonstrated financial need. As with programs like the Pell Grant and Perkins Loan, financial need in this case is determined by financial data included on the student’s annual FAFSA. Those students who qualify are offered a work-study grant through the government based on how much need they have shown. Students with greater need will be awarded a larger grant, while those with less need will receive substantially fewer funds to use over the course of the academic year.

Related Resource: Applying for Financial Aid

Not a Predictor of On-Campus Employment or an Employment Restriction

It should be noted that the Federal Work Study Program does not guarantee students a job on campus. In fact, the program specifically requires that students use on-campus job boards and employment postings to apply for a position that best meets their academic needs and their existing set of skills. For this reason, students who receive such a grant as part of their overall financial aid award package will want to make sure that they apply for open work study positions as soon as possible once a semester has begun.

It is also important to keep in mind that on-campus employment positions are not limited just to those students who received a work study opportunity from the federal government. While some positions might be noted as “work study only,” others are open to any qualified applicant currently studying at the university. That means students who didn’t qualify for such a grant can still enjoy the flexibility of an on-campus job in most cases.

Wages Are Part of a Government-University Partnership Program

Work study grants are designed to make it affordable for universities to hire their students and work around their schedules. This is done largely by offsetting the costs that universities incur when they hire students to perform any task around campus. In most cases, the government will pay up to 50 percent of a student’s hourly wage in an on-campus position that qualifies for work study funds. In some limited cases, or where either the university’s or student’s need is elevated, the government can opt to pay for 100 percent of the hourly wage afforded to students in their position.

An Excellent Way to Work, Gain Valuable Experience, and Pay for School

The Federal Work Study program is a great way to receive financial aid and valuable work experience all at the same time. For those students who have so far viewed this financial aid award with confusion, it might be time to stop asking, “what is a work-study program” and instead start asking, “Who will hire me first?”