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College Planning: Important Facts About Work Study

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For those students who qualify for work study, the unique opportunity to earn a few dollars throughout the college school year can be quite beneficial to their finances. Not every student will be able to apply for a position within the work study venue. Typically, only a select number of students will qualify for the even more select grouping of jobs designated on campus as work study positions.

Qualifying for Work Study

In order to qualify, the student, and sometimes their parents as well, need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as well as any required financial aid forms for each of the colleges that they have applied to for admission for the coming year. Based upon the information presented, the financial aid office of the college will determine the student’s eligibility for various forms of financial aid including work study, student loans, parent loans, and grants.

Depending on the guidelines of each college and the number of applications that have been received, a student may or may not be deemed eligible for financial aid. The student is notified of the decision in the financial aid offer that he receives from each of the colleges. He will see it listed along with any other forms of financial aid. Typically, the amount of the potential work study earnings is also listed.

Work study is usually offered for each college semester within a single school year. In order to qualify for subsequent years, the student must reapply for financial aid submitting both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the college financial aid form. Work study is usually offered to college students who exhibit financial need.

Finding a Work Study Position

It is important for students to understand that just because they qualify for work study of some type, it does not mean that they will receive a work study job. Depending on the employment guidelines of each college, the student may also need to complete an application for the particular work study job that he is currently trying to obtain.

In some cases, more than one student may be applying for a position and the student’s qualifications will come into play. Therefore, it is important for the student to list all of his previous employment work experiences and job skills.

Since a limited number of these positions are available, it is important for the student to apply early in order to have a better chance of finding a job that he likes and wants. Additionally, this is an important task since the choicest positions are sure to be snapped up quickly, leaving less desirable positions for those who dawdle before applying.

The Benefits of Work Study

While work study does not help to pay for that initial tuition bill, the money can be used for any number of expenses including:

  • Additional text books needed for mid-semester
  • Additional school supply expenses
  • Clothing and dorm room supplies
  • Plane fare or train tickets
  • Medical expenses for flu shots, colds, etc
  • Supplemental food expenses
  • Leisure activities

Additionally, the money earned through a work study job can be saved up in a bank account for the next semester’s tuition. Moreover, taking a work study job helps to establish a student’s employment history, which can assist the student in the future when trying to:

  • Obtain a co-op or internship
  • Obtain outside employment
  • Obtain additional forms of credit

Work study can assist in defraying the expenses of attending college. Moreover, the experience can provide students with growth experiences from which they will benefit throughout the rest of their lives.


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