What Is Work Study Program? | Overview and How to Get a Good Program In 2023

What Is Work Study Program: is work-study worth it? Want to work while in college to help pay your bills? A federal work-study position allows you to accomplish just that.

Work-study is a type of financial aid that provides you with part-time employment on or off-campus job. Many students prefer work-study jobs because of the easy hiring procedure and flexible hours.

Furthermore, you do not have to “payback” the work-study earnings; Moreso, they do not contribute to your student debt.


However you see it, work-study programs are another form of financial aid that allows a student to work, earn and pay up their expenses.

Besides the financial leverage, this program comes with a lot of advantages, especially for the work experience.

Borrowing the words of Megan FitzGibbon, “Work experience at any level while you’re in college is going to be a benefit especially if it’s related to your degree.”

And following the words of Austin Gentry, an admissions advisor at New Mexico State University “We would much rather have our students turn to grants, work-study — any other source of aid — before they turn to loans,” 

Around 3,400 colleges and universities have an FWS Program, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Although not all schools approve their students to leverage this opportunity, it’s a worthy venture that has testimonials of many happy students.

Here in this guide, you will get to find out how to pay your fees by securing a work study program.


Also, we have specified the difference between the FWS program and the non-federal work study program and their relationship with FAFSA.

Thus, you will be able to find out how much you get to earn as pay from a work study college program.


Welcome Aboard Scholar!!!

ALSO READ: How to choose a university program | Must-have Documents For Study Abroad

What Is Work-Study In College?

According to Merriam Webster, a Work-study program is a program that offers high school or college students part-time jobs in order to provide financial assistance or work experience while they are still in school.

This is a federal student aid program and sometimes state-funded program that helps college students with financial needs get part-time jobs.

For the college student, work-study is a great way to gain experience in your desired field of practice or study.

Taking advantage of the work study on FAFSA, college students can earn and pay for school. 

However, not all students get the opportunity to get the work study FAFSA award.

Students who get it can pay for day-to-day expenses even if it can not cover large costs like tuition and housing.

What Are Typical Work-Study Jobs?

Work-study positions on campus typically include working in the library or bookstore, serving in the dining hall, and assisting with college events. Off-campus work-study usually serves the public in some way and, whenever possible, links to your course of study.

Whatever job you get, be realistic about your timetable and make time not only for studying but also for recreational and leisure activities.

Why Do I Need A Work-Study Program?

Basically, it’s not everyone needs a work Study program.

Work study programs are open to undergraduate and graduate students who are in need of financial assistance.

This option comes in handy when you do not get a scholarship, grants, or other forms of financial aid. 

With the work-study program, students in need of financial assistance can apply for work and earn and pay for their expenses without breaking the bank.

Work-study Jobs VS. Regular Employment

The difference is straightforward. If you have a regular job, the government will restrict your financial aid eligibility by 50% of your earnings above a particular threshold.

Work-study earnings do not diminish your financial assistance eligibility. And, unlike conventional employers, work-study employers are expected to consider your class schedule when assigning work hours.

How Does Work Study FAFSA Work For College Students?

Work-study program for college students is part-time employment that allows them to “earn while they learn.”

Many departments and companies are willing to hire student employees and offer them positions that are relevant to their degrees that work with their academic calendars.

Both undergraduates and graduates can leverage it.

For the college student, there are two kinds of work-study: FWS and non-FWS.

#1. Federal Work-Study Program

The federal work-study program, abbreviated as FWS, is open to undergraduates and graduate students.

To be eligible for the limited FWS, students must first complete all federal student aid eligibility criteria.

Also, all students interested in this must complete the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards before submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

With the FWS, undergraduates can work up to 30 hours per week when classes are in session and 40 hours when classes are not in session.

For work during summer, FWS students must enroll and fill out the FAFSA for the previous academic year to be eligible.

#2. Non-federal Work Study Program

Students who do not qualify for the FWS program may be offered Institutional (or non-Federal Work-Study).

Non-work study refers to jobs that students do not need to qualify for based on the FAFSA. 

These positions are not federally funded and are paid directly from the budget of the department you are working for.

A Non-FWS position allows students to work Hourly (non-FWS) during the summer without attending summer classes.

ALSO READ: 5 Best summary generating tools for university students

Is Work Study Worth It For College Students?

First things for a student who was not fortunate to get a scholarship, or any funding, work Study programs are a fantastic way to pay for your education.

Beyond that, there are some extra advantages that you should consider

  • Earnings are not considered in the FAFSA. What this means is that the money you get from federal work study is not included in your FAFSA payment scheme.
  • The experience you get in such a work environment builds your resume.
  • Students enjoy work flexibility.

Why Is Work Study Not Worth It For College Students?

Although a work study program comes with its advantages as we’ve mentioned, it has its downsides.

Here are some disadvantages to consider before applying for work-study:

  • Money gotten from work study programs does not cover large expenses.
  • Job choices in work-study programs are limited.
  • Bad news, you must apply each year. What this means is that that you’re eligible this year does not mean you’re eligible next year. And there is no assurance that you will be accepted next year. 

How Do I Apply for Work Study Programs?

If you’ve weighed the advantages and disadvantages above and want to proceed to apply for work-study programs, then here’s what you can do;

  • Speak with your financial aid advisor or submit a Federal Work-Study Request.
  • Select the work-study option.
  • Students are typically responsible for securing their own work-study jobs. Just because your financial aid award says you qualify for work-study doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job.
  • Submit the FAFSA and expect results of your financial aid award application within a few months.

If the letter comes out in the affirmative, you can choose whether or not to accept work-study aid.

Keep in mind that the number of federal grants, loans, and work-study for which you are eligible based on your financial need will be listed in the award.

If you are qualified for work-study, you are not guaranteed a work-study position on campus.

Rather, you will be responsible for finding a suitable work-study position for yourself.

When you receive your award letter, you will see the total amount of your financial assistance package allotted to work-study. 

Here is what happens in details

#1. Fill Out the FAFSA Form

When you fill out the FAFSA, select the box on the application that indicates you want to be considered for work-study. 

Be swift because the federal work study program is awarded based on first-come, first-served basis.

#2. Secure A Job

Applying for work study does not mean you have a job ready for you.

Students are typically responsible for securing their own work-study jobs. 

Just because your financial aid award says you qualify for work-study doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job.

And if offered a job, it’s not a must that you just accept it.

#3. Receive Your Letter

Once you submit the FAFSA form, you should expect the results of your financial aid award application within a few weeks or even months.

Once it is ready, you’ll get a financial aid award listing the amounts you’re eligible to get from loans, grants, and work-study. 

Colleges award work-study funds based on the availability of funds, student financial need, and other financial aid a student is eligible for.

Where Can I Find An Eligible Work-study Job?

As we have explained earlier, you are responsible for finding a work Study job for you.

So after you’re offered a work-study opportunity, you have to find a job that qualifies for the program.

There are many places you can scout for work-study jobs. 

Many employees in the computer lab and help desk actually are work study students. 

You may help fellow students with their computer or printer-related issues, supervise computer use, or answer phones at a help desk. 

Here is a guide to help you scout for jobs for your work Study;

#1. School Environment

One of the ways to get your work-study gigs is by applying to jobs on campus or school in which you study.

Such work-study jobs available on-campus include research assistantships and administrative duties in a campus office or working in the library. 

#2. Off-campus Jobs

If you’re not able to find jobs within the school environment, you can look out for nonprofit organizations or private companies outside the school.

Working with them attracts more pay than when you work in the school environment.

#3. Join in Community Service

A portion of work-study positions are community-service jobs, including tutoring, child care and health care.

You can leverage that to earn an extra cut.

These are a few work study jobs you can apply for.

If you’re not able to secure a job within these spheres, you can use your  online portals with work-study job listings.

We often encourage students to apply for jobs that are related to their field of study.

ALSO READ: How to write Plagiarism-free assignments for College students

Do I Have To Accept Work-study Aid?

If you have a work-study program on your financial aid award and you don’t want to use it, you can decline the award. 

Usually, most people decline it because the work-study station you get for yourself is better especially if it decreases your student loan borrowing and the amount of student debt you’ll face after graduation.

Does All Schools Allow Work Study On FAFSA?

No, not every college or university participates in work study programs. 

Your eligibility for the work study on the FAFSA program will be determined in part by whether your college or institution offers work-study opportunities.

So, check the financial aid office of your college to see whether they have work-study programs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Work Study Program

How Much Does Work Study Pay?

Although your financial aid award letter may list a certain amount allocated for work-study — say, $5,000 — that doesn’t mean you automatically get that money.

With a work-study job, you’re guaranteed to earn at least the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. 

This leaves the average work-study award for a student with an eligible job earned $1,847 in 2020, according to the annual Sallie Mae.”

Although this is not a firm statistics because there is no specific pay for work study programs for college students and other work professionals.

This is so because each profession or work environment has their own specific financial rewards that they are willing to pay the students as remuneration.

What we do know is that students who are awarded work-study receive their funds in a paycheck.

Also, they get paid based on hours worked because it’s a part-time job.

With this earnings, students can help with their day-to-day expenses but it does not cover large costs like tuition and housing.

What Is Work-Study Benefit?

As much as we have specified that a work study program is worth it. Here are some of the benefits it brings to the table;

  • Improved workspace layout.
  • Meets the delivery deadline.
  • Improves work-management relationships
  • It contributes to a smooth production flow with few disruptions.
  • It contributes to product cost reduction by removing waste and unnecessary operations.
  • Reduction in rejects and scrap, as well as increased usage of the organization’s resources.
  • Aids in the achievement of better working conditions.
  • Enhances existing processes or methods and aids in standardization and simplification.
  • Assists in establishing the standard time for an operation or job that is used in personnel planning and production planning.

Does Work Study Program Pay As Much As Grants And Scholarships?

what is work study on fafsa
what is work study on fafsa

Depending on the work study program you’re working in, you can earn quite a lot of money.

Typically you can only earn as much through work-study as any other financial aid award.

Are Work Study Programs Flexible?

Yes, work programs are very flexible because first it’s a part-time job.

Also, some employers make exceptions because you’re a student and allow you to work more hours if you can.

For example, if your award allocated $5,000, you could work as many hours as it takes to earn that amount. 

But say you reached that amount with two weeks left in the semester. 

Some employers may allow you to continue working for the remainder of the semester and exceed your allocated amount, but it depends on the employer.

So, work-study jobs have flexible working hours so you can more easily balance work and school.

How Do I Get My Pay For The Work-Study Job?

Payment options differ when it comes to work-study jobs.

You have 3 options;

  • Cheque
  • Direct deposit.
  • Credit to your school account to cover tuition, fees, or room and board. 

How Is The Salary For Work Study Paid?

Work-study students are paid by the hour and must be paid at least once a month. You can ask your college to either send your paycheck straight to you or to deduct your payment from your college bill.

The federal work-study program is a type of financial aid, but it may be much more. Your work-study job might enhance your college experience, especially if it is relevant to your major. Work-study can expose you to new people and experiences outside of your immediate network, in addition to paying for education.

For additional information about acquiring a work-study position in college, go to the U.S. Department of Education.

Must I Use My Work Study Program Money For Specific Payments?

There’s no requirement that you use the money for anything specific.

However, we do know that many students use their work-study paychecks to cover day-to-day living costs.

Does Work-study Affect Future Financial Aid?

The money you earn through work-study is taxable, and you should report it on your FAFSA the following year in two places. 

  • Include your work-study earnings when you report your total income earned from work that year.
  • Full out how much you earned through work-study the previous year. 

Do I Claim Work-study On My Taxes?

If you are required to file taxes, you must claim the earnings from any work study job(s) you had in the tax year in question. 

Your employer will give you a W-2 that will list all the required information to fill out your 1040 form.

Does Work-study Count As Income FAFSA?

Your work-study income does not count against your FAFSA financial aid award. 

That means when you go to file for aid in the future, the income you made at your work-study jobs won’t count against you

Is Work Study Job Enough To Foot My Bills?

The money you make from work-study jobs won’t cover all your college costs.

You’ll need a combination of personal savings, scholarships, grants, and student loans, too.

With that being said, I believe you have a firm grasp of how work study works for college students and how to get payment from performing such jobs.

We advise you to leverage work study programs if scholarships and grants are far-reaching.

Do well to explore our website for more Academic related content that will help you in your academic journey.

Also, follow our Facebook page and YouTube Channel for more information.

Good luck Scholar!!!



  • Hezekiah University Recruitment 2023

    Apply for the latest Hezekiah University Recruitment 2023 Jobs for academic and non-academic job positions. The ongoing recruitment for Hezekiah University job vacancies is open to all eligible candidates. Hezekiah University is the first private University in Imo State. It happens to be the cheapest university in the country in terms of fees but well … Read more

  • Visa Free Countries for Nigerians, Africans and other Nations

    It can be difficult to determine which countries offer visa-free travel. This comprehensive list sorts the countries by region, and includes both African and non-African countries. This article will provide you information on Visa Free Countries in the world, Visa Free countries for Africans and Visa Free countries for Nigeria and where to find Visa … Read more

  • Jumia Recruitment Portal 2023 Jobs

    The latest Jumia Nigeria Recruitment Portal 2023 has opened for the current vacancies recruitment. These current Jumia jobs in Nigeria are open to eligible candidates who desire to work with JUMIA. Read through as we have compiled all the openings and how to apply. JUMIA is about the leading company of its kind in Africa … Read more

  • Fully Funded Scholarships in UK for International Students

    If you are an international student, then you may be eligible for a fully funded scholarship in the UK. There are a number of scholarships available, each with its own set of criteria. Some scholarships are open to all students, while others are restricted to a certain field of study or nationality. The application process … Read more

  • How to Apply for U.S Scholarships with Visa and Work Permit – Visa Requirements and Types

    ‍This brief article will provide you information on finding and applying for U.S Scholarships with Visa and Work Permit. If you desire to study in the United States of America on scholarship or regular student, info.vacancies.website team has has made it easier for you to access information on how to view opportunities, how to apply … Read more

  • How to get Canada Work Visa / Permit for International Students

    Canada Work Visa A work visa or work permit is required for most international students who wish to work in Canada. Students can apply for a study permit at a Canadian visa office outside of Canada. After being accepted to a post-secondary institution and completing their studies, they can apply for a work permit through … Read more