What Is Work Study?

College Work Study | Definition & How to Apply | Resume.com

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Finding a way to pay for student loans and maintain adequate grades can seem challenging, but work study programs can help you achieve this. By taking the time to learn about work study programs, you can pay for college-related expenses while you are enrolled in school. Learn more about the benefits of work study and how to apply for a work study program in this article.

What is work study?

Work study is a federal or state-funded financial program that assists college students in getting part-time jobs while at school. Work study programs can be designed to place students in jobs both on and off-campus.

Benefits for college students considering a work study program

Here are some of the most common benefits of work study programs for college students.

Flexible scheduling

Work study jobs cater to a college student’s busy schedule. Shifts can be divided into manageable increments in between a student’s classes throughout the week or during the weekends.

Low-stress environment

Depending on the position, work study jobs can be relatively low-stress and can include making copies, answering phone calls, or running errands. This can help students focus on their studies and not worry about work-related issues.

On-campus involvement

If a work study position is on-campus, student workers can get involved with campus-life, department activities, or network with professors and other campus personnel.


Work study students might be able to complete coursework during their shifts, so long as it doesn’t impact their job responsibilities.

Work study programs can help qualified students earn money for student loans while attending college, in addition to other advantages.

How to apply for work study

Follow these steps to learn how to apply for work study:

1. First, determine if you are qualified for work study

Compare your qualifications to those required for work study eligibility. Factors may include earning a high school diploma, having good grades, U.S. citizenship, and enrollment at a college or university.

2. Second, fill out a FAFSA form

College students with federal student loans must update their personal information on the FAFSA website each year by filling out a FAFSA form. This helps determine a student’s adjusted financial needs for the coming school year. Fill out this form annually and indicate your need for a work study position.

3. Then, review your financial aid package when it’s ready

In your financial aid package, you will find out if you qualify for a work study position. If you do not qualify, you can reapply for the next school year.

4. Finally, ask your school’s financial aid department for help

If you do qualify for work study, you should contact your school’s financial aid department or office responsible for helping students find their work study positions. You may be given access to a list of on-campus or off-campus jobs that are part of the work study program at your college, and you can begin applying to those that interest you.

Frequently asked questions about work study

Here are the answers to some of the additional questions you might have about work study:

Does qualifying for work study automatically mean I have a job?

Qualifying for work study is not the same as actually getting hired for a work study position. Once you qualify for work study, this means you are a member of a condensed pool of applicants at your school who have also qualified for the work study program.

Am I guaranteed a job if I qualify for work study?

Depending on the amount of available work study positions that are available, there may or may not be enough openings for all qualifiers to receive a position for the coming semester. You will need to apply for positions and attend interviews in order to secure a work study job. It is important to remember that if you do not get a work study job for the current semester, there could be additional openings available for the next semester.

What types of jobs are considered work study positions?

The types of work study positions offered by your college or university can vary depending on its current needs. Some common work study positions might include roles such as administrative assistants, receptionists, research assistants or professor aids. Other possible positions could include working at the front desk of a residence hall, assisting as a student IT specialist or helping with food prep as a dining hall worker.

What kind of wage do I receive through work study?

You would most likely receive the federal minimum wage at your work study job. This means you would receive a set hourly rate during your work shifts.

Can part-time college students be eligible for work study?

Students who attend college part-time are just as qualified as full-time college students to apply for and receive a work study position. It is important to note that a part-time student’s eligibility for work study could be influenced by factors such as grades, citizenship and current educational background. These are the same factors that are used to weigh whether a full-time student is eligible.

Do all United States-based schools offer federal work study programs?

No, not all colleges and universities in the United States offer federal work study programs. It is important that you review your school’s financial aid policies to determine whether or not a work-study is available to you. If your school does not offer federal work study, you might be able to get it at the state government level.

Is there a difference between state and federal work study programs?

Both state and federal work study programs are directed toward giving college students the opportunity to work while also attending school. The major difference between them is the source of funds that go toward student worker wages. Federal work study is funded at the national level, by the federal government, and can be used by students across the country, whereas state work study is funded at the state government level, and can only be given to students attending college in that state.

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