Sometimes, a student will receive a financial aid package that includes something called a “Work-Study Program.” If this is the case, you might be wondering what that means. How does this program work? For whom will you be working? How will you get paid? What will you be doing? This article gives us a look into all these questions.
If your student has looked into the variety of college funding options available, work-study has probably come up. Understanding how it works is an important part of knowing if it’s a good option for your child.
Work-study programs are often very flexible and take student schedules and exams into account. hence parents should worry less.
Work-study is a financial aid program funded at the federal or state level that helps college and graduate students in financial need to get part-time jobs alongside their studies.
The income earned from work-study can help with tuition, living expenses and other education-related costs. This program is available to part-time or full-time students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools.
It is administered by schools that participate in the Federal Work-Study program.
How Does Work-Study Operate?
Selecting the work-study program only means that you will be considered for this form of aid. It does not guarantee that you will receive it as part of your financial aid award.
However, you can decide whether or not to accept work-study aid if you do receive this kind of award. You can expect to receive the results of your financial aid award application within a couple of months of submitting the FAFSA.
The award will list the amounts of federal grants, loans, and work-study for which you are eligible based on your financial need.
Once it has been determined that you are eligible for work-study, you are not guaranteed a work-study job on campus.
Rather, you will still be responsible for finding an appropriate work-study job. Often this means submitting an application and interviewing for available positions.
While this may sound daunting, it is an excellent practice for applying for full-time jobs once you have graduated.
Your award letter will list the total amount of your total financial aid package allocated to work-study, but that does not mean you can automatically expect to receive that money.
Instead, you will need to identify a work-study eligible job, and then work the required number of hours to receive that allotted amount.
What Kinds of Jobs Work-Study Programs Do Provide?
In general, work-study jobs will emphasize civic engagement. Ideally, these jobs will be related to your course of study, if at all possible. Jobs can be on- or off-campus.
If you’re working on campus, this means that you work for your school. On-campus work-study jobs might include working in the library, dining hall, or residence halls.
These jobs can often be beneficial to full-time students because your work will be at your school, so there won’t be a long commute time, and it might even be okay to study or do homework while you are on the job.
Keep in mind that this isn’t the case with every on-campus work-study job, and you should definitely check on this with your employer beforehand.
If you are off-campus, you will usually work for an employer that is a private nonprofit organization or public agency. In these cases, the work that you provide for your employer must be in the public interest.
This means that the work you perform must in some way benefit the nation or your community.
In terms of work-study jobs, this might mean working in a public library, government office, community center, public school, hospital, or daycare center.
Work-study jobs are required to pay you at least the federal minimum wage. You might even make more, depending on the type of work that you do and the skills that are required.
Your work-study award will depend on when you applied for work-study, your level of financial need, and your school’s level of funding.
You should also be aware that a work-study job is different from a regular job in the sense that you cannot simply work for as many hours as you want; the number of hours that you can work is predetermined by the amount of money allotted by your federal work-study award.
Additionally, when considering how many hours you will work, your school and your employer will both take into account your class schedule and academic progress.
A Work-study program can be ideal for students for this reason—often, your employer will be more willing to work with you because they understand that you are a full-time student with serious academic demands.
How Will You Be Paid?
If you are an undergraduate student, you will be paid by the hour. If you are a graduate student, you will either be paid by the hour or have a set salary, depending on the kind of work that you are doing.
According to regulations from the Federal Work-Study program, your school must pay you at least once per month. Your school must pay you directly with a paycheck unless you request that the money be deposited directly in your bank account.
And (or) your working-study earnings be deducted from your education-related institutional fees (like tuition, room, and board, or other fees).
Be sure to keep in mind that your work-study funds will not be applied directly to your tuition. You get to decide where your work-study award is deposited.
A work-study award does not guarantee employment but has several benefits not available in regular employment. Some employers will only accept qualified work-study applicants, so you will find a greater number of job openings available if you have an award.
Another important benefit is that your work-study income is not included when your financial aid need is determined each year, which may increase your eligibility for other types of financial aid, such as scholarships, grants, or subsidized loans.
The University’s Student Employment Office provides centralized employment services for all University students seeking part-time employment. A variety of opportunities are available; some jobs require little or no experience while others require expertise and training.
Positions will vary from clerical, information technology, food and parking services, laboratory, teaching and research, science, and tutoring services. As of May 1, 2015, the San Francisco minimum wage is $12.25 per hour.
1. What if I’m not awarded work-study but would like to work in a work-study position?
You should contact Student Enrollment Services to determine if you meet work-study eligibility criteria. If you do, you will be placed on a work-study waiting list and as funds become available, you will be awarded and notified.
2. Can I work more than one work-study job?
No, you may only have one work-study job per semester. All other jobs will be regular student jobs. You must monitor your total earnings from the work-study job position to ensure that you do not exceed your work-study award amount.
3. If I earn my full work-study award, can I receive more?
You should conscientiously track your earnings and contact Student Enrollment Services to determine if you have eligibility for additional funding. If funds are available and you have unmet need, your work-study award may be increased.
4. Should I report my work-study earnings on my tax return?
Yes, all work-study earnings are taxable income and should be reported as such.
5. If I decline my work-study award, will I receive some other form of financial aid?
If you decline your work-study award, you may be eligible for additional student loan funding.
While it might seem confusing or intimidating at first, work-study can actually be beneficial to many students with demonstrated financial needs. The program can be a helpful way to gain work experience and offset some of the costs of college.
Not to mention the fact that having an employer that understands your needs and your schedule as a full-time student can be beneficial as well.