Lower Your Student Loan Payment Today — Compare Offers from Top-Rated Lenders in 2 Minutes
2021 NerdWallet Best-Of Awards Winner


Is Work Study Right for You?

Kathryn Morstad

If you are an incoming or currently enrolled college student, you probably already have an idea of how expensive college can be. While federal student loans tend to get the spotlight, it’s important to remember there are other government-funded financing options, such as the Federal Work-Study Program. But is work study right for you?

Let’s look at some facts…

Fast Facts About Work-Study Jobs

·         The Federal Work-Study Program is available to undergraduate and graduate level students, as well as professional students.

·         It requires students to show demonstrated financial need.

·         It focuses on community-related jobs, not-for-profit jobs, or jobs related to your coursework or career path.

·         It’s available for both full and part-time students.

·         It provides paid part-time employment while you are in school.

·         Your school must be participating in the Federal Work-Study Program for you to be eligible.

·         You must indicate on your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) that you are interested in work study.

·         You are paid directly for your work and those earnings are subject to state and federal taxes, except FICA (Medicare and Social Security), which is waived if you are currently enrolled in school full time and work less than half time.

Overview of the Federal Work-Study Program

So, what is Federal Work-Study?

Initiated as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Federal Work-Study Program was established to enable financially disadvantaged students to earn income to help pay for their education. Interestingly, the Federal Work-Study Program was one of the first forms of student financial assistance, predating Pell Grants and Stafford Loans.

Acceptance into the program is based on financial need and available funding, which comes from federal and sometimes state government entities. Benefits are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is crucial to submit your FAFSA early, and if awarded the opportunity, apply to the available work-study jobs as soon as possible.

The jobs offered typically pay minimum wage (as defined by the governing state) and can be located on your school’s campus or at partner not-for-profit or civic organizations where you can get career-related experience.

Work Study Eligibility and FAFSA

Considered a form of federal financial assistance, the work-study program has no federally-mandated minimum or maximum amounts to be awarded, though your financial aid award letter may inform you how much funding has been allocated to your work-study job. To be eligible, you simply need to be a full or part-time undergraduate or graduate student who can demonstrate financial need.

The great news — because this isn’t a student loan, the work-study earnings don’t have to be repaid. They don’t even have to go directly to tuition. You’ve earned the money, and it’s yours to use however you want. Additionally, money earned in a previous school year does not affect your FAFSA like other income does — it’s excluded from the final calculations for the following school year.

The 4 Best Companies for Private Student Loans

Our Top-Rated Picks for 2022 Offer Low Rates and No Fees


Option to skip a payment once a year

Fixed Rate

3.99% – 12.78% APR 1

Variable Rate

3.58% – 12.28% APR 1

In-school deferment available if you return for another degree

Fixed Rate

3.21% – 11.99% APR 4

Variable Rate

2.69% – 11.79% APR 4

Optional $25 payment plan during school to reduce interest after graduation

Fixed Rate

3.99% – 14.96% APR 2

Variable Rate

3.24% – 14.86% 2

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward program

Fixed Rate

4.62% – 16.75% APR​ 3

Variable Rate

4.14% – 14.40% APR 3

How to be Considered for Work-Study

To apply for the Federal Work-Study Program, fill out the FAFSA as early as possible and indicate that you want to be considered for work study (under the Student Eligibility section). Remember that by selecting this option, you aren’t guaranteed a work-study job, nor are you required to accept funds that are offered.

When you received your financial award letter, it will include a listing of all the amounts you’re eligible to receive. These can be loans, grants, and work study. If awarded and you want to take advantage of the work-study program, then it’s important to act fast and apply for a qualifying job as soon as you find out you are eligible.

Each academic year, work study has deadlines defined by your school to apply, accept, start working, and stop working — be sure to check with your school on their specific deadlines. Any funds that are still available at the conclusion of the school year are canceled and don’t carry over to the new school year.

How to Apply for Work-Study Jobs

Once you are awarded a work-study opportunity, it will be up to you to find available jobs, apply, interview, and accept a position — all great experience for future job hunting. For on-campus jobs, most colleges and universities have a job portal showing available jobs, each with instructions for applying and setting up interviews for any open positions. For off-campus opportunities, your college’s financial aid office can help point you in the right direction.

Expect to encounter full hiring practices with background checks and reference checks, especially for off-campus jobs. If this is your first job or you just want some assistance, most schools offer some job-hunting and interviewing support to help you navigate the process.

Lastly, be sure to apply for jobs that allow you to meet your study obligations. Work-study is supposed to give you a well-rounded experience, not add to your stress or cause you to miss class or deadlines.

What Kind of Jobs Are Available

When looking for jobs on campus, you can expect to see research assistant jobs, office administration and computer lab jobs, and library assistant work. Also, there may be athletic and fitness jobs available, as well as positions in food services. This is a great opportunity to dip your toe into the field you are interested in choosing for your career to see if you really enjoy the work.

For off-campus employment, you can expect jobs like tutoring, reading support in elementary schools, plus administrative and office support positions. Employers that participate in the work-study program are typically government and not-for-profit groups but can include large corporations like hotel chains and healthcare facilities.

How Do You Get Paid

As they’re earned, your wages are paid through your school, and you can request that the money is used to directly pay tuition, fees, or room and board. You can also have the money sent to you personally and it can be used at your discretion. According to a Sallie Mae report in 2022, the average student job earned $1,531 during the school year.

Free 13-page eBook: How to Pay For College

Download instantly with just one click

Free eBook: How to Pay for College

Download instantly with
just one click

How Many Hours Can You Work

There is not a set number of hours that you can work in the work-study program. However, most schools recommend that you don’t work more than 20 hours per week. When carrying a full load of classes, you may want to work considerably less, as your studies should take priority over your work-study job.

Benefits of Work-Study vs. Part-Time Work

While you can choose to work a part-time job instead of a work-study job, consider these benefits:

·         Work-study jobs can be easier to find. Not only does the college you attend have tons of opportunities, but local businesses are eager to hire subsidized college students. They don’t have to pay the salaries and typically get motivated employees who are eager to learn. 

·         Any money earned can reduce the amount of loans you may need and fewer loans means less long-term debt.

·         Taking an on-campus job can save you on transportation or commuting costs. It’s a lot easier to get to a job across the quad than across town.

·         Regular part-time work can reduce your financial aid eligibility for the next year. It must be reported on your FAFSA, while work study is not included in the final calculations.

·         Your work-study employer will likely be much more understanding of your time limits, need to study, and inability to pick up extra shifts. A part-time employer may not be as flexible.

What Are Other Options If You Don’t Qualify

There is always the chance that you don’t qualify. However, personal savings, grants, scholarships, and federal and private student loans, in that order, are all options that can be figured into your overall college funding plan. Start with family and personal college funds, add grants and scholarships, and finally factor in federal loans followed by private loans to fill in the gaps.

Once you have depleted your federal loan limits each year, consider private loans. At Purefy, an independent marketplace, you can request quotes from leading private lenders offering the best interest rates, flexible terms, and no fees. Once you find the best lending option, it’s fast and simple to fill out the application and borrow the money you need.

Don’t forget, there are also other alternatives to consider, including other part-time jobs or outside independent contracting and side hustles.

In Summary

Work study can be a great opportunity to make some extra cash without impacting your eligibility for federal financial assistance. Eligibility is simple and the jobs can be geared towards your area of study. You’ll also get experience in resume writing, interviewing, and being hired – some of the most important skills to learn while you’re still in school.

If you find you are in need a private loan information, contact Purefy to learn more about student loan financing today.

Need a Private Student Loan? Check Out the Top Lenders of 2022.

Compare interest rates and perks to find the best lender for you.

You Might Also Like
purefy recommends

Student Loan Refinancing

Refinancing from 2.99% APR

Check your rate in 2 minutes

with no impact on your credit score.

Earnest Rate Disclosure

Rates displayed include the 0.25% Auto Pay discount. You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment from a checking or savings account. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.24% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 3.83% APR to 12.53% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Nine-month grace period is not available for borrowers who choose our Principal and Interest Repayment plan while in school.

Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. The interest accrued during the skipped month will result in an increase in your remaining minimum payment. The final payoff date on your loan will be extended by the length of the skipped payment periods. Please be aware that a skipped payment does count toward the forbearance limits. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion. Your monthly payment and total loan cost may increase as a result of postponing your payment and extending your term.

Loan Eligibility criteria: Eligible students must: 1) For college Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school full-time. For college Seniors and Graduate students, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school at least half-time; and 2) be pursuing a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree. Earnest private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information, self-certification of loan amount, and school certification.

Responsible borrowing tip: Explore all scholarship, grant and federal options before applying for a private loan.

Earnest Private Student Loans are made by One American Bank, Member FDIC. One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104.

Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC, 535 Mission St., Suite 1663 San Francisco, CA 94105, NMLS #1204917, with support From Navient Solutions, LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by agencies of the United States of America.

ELFI Rate Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan provider offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist students financially with receiving their education. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. Interest rates current as of 10-24-2022. Variable interest rates may increase after closing but will never exceed 18.00%. Interest rates may also differ from the rates shown above. The term of your loan, financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history can affect the interest rate. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 7% would have 120 payments of $11.61 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

College Ave Rate Disclosure

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Minimum loan amount $1,000, as certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive.
This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 11/17/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Ascent Rate Disclosure

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 11/14/2022 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized back account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

Want To Find Out When Student Loan Refinance Rates Drop?

Join our email list to get instantly notified when rates change.

I am a(Required)