Why and When to Apply for Work-Study

Most students typically like to work and attend school simultaneously to put a few extra bucks in their pockets. But sometimes it can be difficult to find an employer that understands how to schedule you around your school hours. That’s why participating in a work-study program is a great option for those who want a part-time job that won’t overpower their academics. If you are unsure exactly what work-study is, it is simply a federal or state sponsored program that helps students find a job that can assist in paying for tuition and extra living expenses. While you must first apply for financial aid to qualify (it is only offered based on a financial need basis), work-study is completely different than a grant or loan. This is because unlike a grant you are not receiving free money; you must work to get paid. And unlike a loan, you do not owe the government or a private lender money when you graduate. Most employers on campus offer work-study (ideal jobs are working in the school library or dining hall), but most off campus employers must be pre-approved by your college or university first.

So how exactly does work-study ‘work’? You must first check the box that reads "interested in work-study" when filling out your FASFA application. If you are approved for work study, your college will give you an estimated figure of how much money you are eligible to receive that semester. You are then responsible of finding your own job on or off campus. You will then show your employer your work study award form and will discuss pay and hours.Because your work-study award form only displays an estimated figure, your employer may negotiate a different salary with you, but typically they offer the amount that is on the form. While some employers may offer you less than what is estimated to you, you are not permitted to earn more than what your work study award says. This is so that you are not allowed to work overtime which may interfere with your studies. The purpose of work-study is so that you are given a part-time job that will truly allow you to balance both your school work and a job.

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