Work Study: Earn Money Towards College Expenses

Last Updated on May 26, 2023

A friendly African American HBCU college student at her work study job on campus.What are the most challenging parts of attending college? Well, there are several and paying for tuition is one of them. Meeting all of your college expenses while earning your degree is tough, and many students overcome that hurdle by taking student loans. However, student loans are expensive, last for decades, and demand you to pay the full amount with interest whether you graduate or not. In this case, Federal Work Study program can be an excellent option that will not only provide you with part-time employment but also will possibly provide you a job in a field related to your study.

So, find out how work study can help you in earning money towards college expenses:

What Is a Work Study?

It is a federal student aid program that provides enrolled undergraduate, graduate, and professional students part-time jobs so that they can pay their educational expenses. It does not matter whether the students are studying part-time or full-time courses, every student with financial need will be eligible to enroll this program.

However, the opportunity is available only for those students whose schools participate in the program. So, check with the financial aid office of your school to find out whether your school is a member.

Types of Work Study Jobs

The program encourages students to do community service jobs and work relevant to their course of study. It offers two types of jobs:

On-Campus Jobs

On-campus jobs normally requires students to work for their school. Usually, the program bankrolls the paychecks of students who qualify for part-time on-campus jobs.

Off-Campus Jobs

These jobs are basically community work that must be performed in the public interest. In this case, the employers must be either a public agency or a nonprofit organization. A for-profit company will only be allowed if the job is pertinent to the student's study courses.

Payment and Work Hours


The minimum amount you’ll earn from your job is the current federal minimum wage. However, the wage can vary depending on your skills and the type of work. Undergraduate students will be paid by the hour but professional and graduate students can be paid by salary or by the hour, depending on the type of work.

In case of on-campus jobs, you can choose getting directly paid from your school, getting it deposited to your bank account, or using it to pay for various school fees.

Work Hours

The program does not allow you to work as many hours as you like. It’s only a part-time job and the amount you earn must be equal or below your total Federal Work-Study award. In case of both types of jobs, your employing institution will assign the job hours considering your class schedule and academic progress.

Applying for Federal Work Study

You have to check with the financial aid office of your school to know if it’s participating in the program. If yes, apply through the aid office as early as possible because the funds are awarded on a first come, first served basis.

The program determines your work study award considering three factors – your level of financial need, the funding level of your school, and the time of applying for the award. However, if you don’t want to work during study, you can bear the educational expenses through savings and student loans, among other options.

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