What is the Federal Work Study Program?

The Federal Work Study Program is one of the resources available to needy students who find it difficult to come up with the funds needed to pursue a college degree.  What is the Federal Work Study Program? It is a financial aid package that helps students to cover the cost of their education. The Federal Work Study Program was established in 1965 as a part of the Higher Education Act. Today, more than 3,400 colleges across the nation participate. Money from the Program is allocated to schools based on the number of their students that demonstrate financial need.

How the Federal Work Study Program Operates

The program allows students to work part-time and a portion of their earnings is used to pay for their education. The student may work for the institution at which they are pursuing their degree; they may also work for a federal, state or public agency. Other employment options include working for nonprofit or for-profit organizations. In some cases, employers are expected to pay up to 50 percent of students’ wages; in other cases, the Work Study Program may pay all of it. Students will be paid up to the amount that they have been awarded.

Benefits of the Federal Work Study Program

Students’ work schedules are arranged around their class schedule, making it convenient for them to attend classes and work towards their award. Additionally, the jobs are often located on the student’s campus. If possible, the jobs students are given will be related to their course of study and may thus help them to gain career-experience.

Salaries on the Federal Work Study Program

Students will be paid at least minimum wage, though there is the potential for them to make more. The factors that affect rate of pay include the time at which the student applied and their level of demonstrated financial need. Institutions are mandated to pay students at least once a month and must pay them directly unless the student requests to have the money used for tuition and other fees related to their education. Students should note that non Work Study jobs may be considered when determining their earnings (and thus their financial need) whereas the money that a student earns via the program is not used to determine financial need.

Applying to the Federal Work Study Program

In order to get a job via the Federal Work Study Program, the student must have a Federal Work Study Award. In order to determine their eligibility for the Award, the student will have to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Factors in determining need include the income of the student and their parents (if the student is their dependent) and the size of their household.

In addition to the rules provided by the Work Study Program, the schools may provide their own restrictions. They may determine how many hours a week a student can work or they may use the student’s grade point average to determine how much time they can work per week. Students should always keep in mind that their job via the Work Study Program is a real job, one from which they can be fired; it is therefore important that they show up for work on time and do their best.

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