What Is a Work-Study Job? (2023)

Key Takeaways

  • Students with financial need are eligible for work-study jobs.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students can obtain work-study jobs through the Federal Work-Study Program as part of their financial aid package.
  • Work-study jobs are part-time and pay at least minimum wage. They can be either on campus or off campus.
  • Students who don't qualify for work-study positions may be able to find on-campus jobs through their school's student employment or career services offices.

How Work-Study Jobs Work

The Federal Work-Study Program is a component of federal financial aid provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Work-study funds part-time jobs for undergraduates, graduate students, and professional students with demonstrated need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education-related expenses.

Students in work-study jobs generally work flexible hours that don’t conflict with their class schedules. There are limits to how many hours students can work each week so they'll have time for studying and school activities.

The types of schools that participate in the federal student aid program include four-year colleges and universities, two-year colleges (community and junior colleges), and career schools (technical and vocational schools). However, not all school participate in federal student aid programs.

Check with the financial aid office to find out whether your university or career school participates. If it does, and you qualify for the program, the federal government will pay for some or all of the wages you earn at a work-study job.

Example of a Work-Study Job

A student may be awarded work-study funds as part of their financial aid package. Students who are eligible can then apply for on-campus (and possibly off-campus) work-study jobs.

The student reviews open positions and applies for work-study jobs through the college’s student employment portal or financial aid office or directly with a campus department. Positions are frequently available in dining services, campus offices, administration, and academic departments.

A student who is interested in working flexible hours and doesn’t have much experience, for example, might want to start with a job in dining services. After the student completes an employment application, they will interview with dining services, and if hired, they will be given a work schedule in food services or the dining hall that doesn’t conflict with their class schedule.

How To Apply for the Federal Work-Study Program

Applying for Student Aid

Unlike other jobs on campus that aren’t work-study positions, you’ll be applying for the program through the federal government rather than directly at your college or career school. Because work-study is part of the student aid program, you can’t apply for it separately. It’s part of the federal application process for financial aid, and it’s based on need. Both undergraduates and graduate students can apply for the program, whether they are full-time or part-time students.

You will need to formally apply for federal student aid to get a determination of your eligibility for a work-study job. You can use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to apply for federal aid for college, vocational school, or graduate school.


Understanding how student aid is calculated can help you get an idea of how much aid you’ll be eligible to receive and whether or not work-study will be part of it. The Federal Student Aid Estimator can help you calculate an estimate.

Notification of Eligibility

You’ll be notified about financial aid when you receive the award package from the school you’re attending. Once you verify that work-study is part of your financial aid package, you can apply for jobs through your school—typically through the student employment office.

Keep in mind that this program doesn’t guarantee that you will get a job. Rather, it helps provide funding for your employment if you are hired.

Types of Work-Study Jobs

Plenty of campus work-study jobs are available, and there may be off-campus positions you can apply for as well. If it’s an off-campus job, the work must be in the public interest (typically at a non-profit organization or a public agency) in order to be eligible for participation in the work-study program. Community service work and work related to your course of study are encouraged.

The types of work-study jobs that are available will depend on the school you're attending, but they often include administrative, research, and library positions.

How To Apply for a Work-Study Job

At most participating institutions, you need to apply, interview, and get an offer just as you would with any other job. In order to have a larger selection of job options available, it’s important to apply as early in the semester as possible, before jobs are taken by others.

How you will find and apply for jobs depends on the school you’re attending:

  • Jobs may be listed on the general jobs website, with work-study positions designated as such.
  • Opportunities could be listed on the student employment or career services website.
  • Campus departments and offices may list openings on their website, and you can always stop in and ask about available positions.


If you’re not sure about the best way to apply, check with the financial aid office for information on where to find job listings and how to apply.

Pay for Work-Study Jobs

A student’s federal student aid determination will provide information on how much their work-study award will be, and that’s how much they will be able to earn each academic year through the program.

The federal minimum wage is the lowest rate you can be paid for a work-study job. If your state has a higher minimum wage, you’ll be paid at least that rate. You may be able to earn more, depending on your skills and job qualifications.

Undergraduate students are generally paid hourly, while professional and graduate students may be paid hourly or receive a salary, depending on the job. The number of hours you can work is limited to a set number per school year, and your earnings can’t exceed the amount listed in your Federal Work-Study award.

The total amount you’ll be able to earn depends on when you apply for the program, your level of need, and the funding level of your school.

Alternatives to Work-Study Jobs

If you’re not eligible or can’t line up a work-study position, there are other options available. Not all jobs on campus are work-study positions. You may be able to line up a part-time job on campus through your school’s student employment office or get hired directly by a department. Check for details on what’s available with your college’s student employment office or directly with departments where you would like to work.

Also, consider a part-time position off campus or an online job. Many companies are flexible and willing to work around a student’s class schedule, and—especially in busy college towns—employment opportunities are plentiful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are students guaranteed a work-study job?

Work-study jobs aren’t guaranteed. Being able to obtain a work-study position depends on your financial need, whether you used the prior year’s work-study funds, and how much funding your school has for work-study jobs. It’s important to apply as soon as you can for available positions because funding is limited.

How much do work-study jobs pay?

Work-study positions pay at least the current federal minimum wage. If state or local law requires a higher minimum wage, the student must be paid the higher rate. Some jobs may pay more than the minimum wage, depending on the position.


Should you answer yes to work-study on FAFSA? ›

Select “Yes” if you're interested in being considered for a work-study job. Selecting this response doesn't guarantee that you'll be offered a Federal Work-Study job. Select “No” if you aren't interested in being considered for a work-study job.

What is the job of work-study? ›

Handles routine office inquiries from employees, students and parents. Assists in the day to day maintenance and responsibilities of the assigned department. Responsible for clerical functions including answering phones, filing, scheduling, organizing, etc. Responsible for other reasonable, related duties as assigned.

What is an example of work-study? ›

Many employees in the computer lab and help desk are actually 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. This can be a great job as you often have the time to work on your own projects between calls.

Is work-study like a normal job? ›

Work-study jobs are easier to find than normal ones because the college has many jobs available on campus. It also works with local businesses to subsidize jobs for college students. Employers are more likely to accept college students on work-study because the college will pay a portion of the wages.

Should you be honest on FAFSA? ›

What if I choose not to list all my assets on the FAFSA? It is important to be accurate and honest with your financial information on the FAFSA application because it can be audited by the US Education Department through a process known as verification.

Does working as a student affect financial aid? ›

As it turns out, a part-time job – or the earnings from a part-time job – can impact financial aid. When the FAFSA is filed, it not only takes into account parental finances and contributions but a student's as well. When a student includes their income on the FAFSA, it makes them appear less in need of financial aid.

Why is it called work study? ›

The term “work-study” can seem self-explanatory: It's a program designed to help people obtain employment while in college. Because so many students struggle to afford basic necessities, these part-time gigs are a helpful source of income.

What are the benefits of work study? ›

What Is Work-Study? Plus, 4 Advantages of a Federal Work-Study Job
  • You keep what you earn. While you have to pay student loans back with interest, work-study earnings are yours to keep. ...
  • Your paycheck won't affect financial aid eligibility. ...
  • Work-study jobs are convenient. ...
  • The reward can be more than just financial.
Jan 14, 2022

What are different types of work study? ›

Six best work-study jobs for students:
  • Resident/Community Assistants.
  • Campus Ambassador.
  • Teaching Assistant.
  • Research Assistant.
  • Library Attendant.
  • Tutor.

What are the disadvantages of work-study? ›

What are the disadvantages of work-study? Limited hours, relatively low pay and a lack of available positions at some schools are some disadvantages of work-study. You must also reapply for work-study each year to reassess your eligibility.

What is work-study in simple words? ›

work-study. noun. an examination of ways of finding the most efficient method of doing a job, esp in terms of time and effort.

What is work-study answer in one sentence? ›

Work study is the investigation, by means of a consistent system of the work done in an organization in order to attain the best utilisation of resources i.e. Materials, Machines, Men and Money.

What's the difference between a work-study and a regular job? ›

The answer is simple. With a regular job, the government will reduce your financial aid eligibility by 50 percent of your earnings over a certain amount. Income from a work-study job does not reduce your financial aid eligibility.

Is work-study an income? ›

Work-Study earnings are taxable; appropriate taxes will be deducted from your paychecks by your employer. If you work on-campus, FICA2 will be deducted during periods of non-enrollment.

Do work-study jobs look good on resume? ›

How you include this experience depends largely on the type of jobs you've had and the type of work you're seeking. However, including your work-study jobs on your resume is usually a good strategy.

What are the 3 most common FAFSA mistakes? ›

You'll have a better chance at receiving money for college if you avoid several common mistakes when filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Such mistakes include not completing the form on time, not filling it out correctly, or forgetting to sign and submit.

Does FAFSA actually check income? ›

According to Studentaid.gov, colleges will not ask you to verify income or family size; only the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid office will ask for income verification.

What is the most common mistake made on the FAFSA? ›

11 Common FAFSA Mistakes
  • Not Completing the FAFSA® ...
  • Not Using the Correct Website. ...
  • Not Getting an FSA ID Ahead of Time. ...
  • Waiting to Fill Out The FAFSA Until After You File Taxes. ...
  • Not Filing by the Deadline. ...
  • Not Reading Definitions Carefully. ...
  • Inputting Incorrect Information. ...
  • Not Reporting Parent Information.
Jan 1, 2016

What income disqualifies you from FAFSA? ›

Did You Know? There is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Many factors—such as the size of your family and your year in school—are taken into account.

How much money can a student make before it affects FAFSA? ›

There is no set income limit for eligibility to qualify for financial aid through. You'll need to fill out the FAFSA every year to see what you qualify for at your college. It's important to make sure you fill out the FAFSA as quickly as possible once it opens on October 1st for the following school year.

How much can a student earn before affecting FAFSA 2023? ›

For the 2023-2024 FAFSA, up to $7,600 of a dependent student's income is protected — and thus not considered in the EFC. For parents, the income protection allowance depends on the number of people in the household and the number of students in college.

Why do employers like work-study students? ›

The Work-Study Program intends to encourage part-time employment and reduce loan debt incurred while attending college. Work-Study does so by paying a portion of your salary, thus making it more advantageous for an employer to hire you.

What is work-study also called as? ›

Work study or Work Study may refer to: Diligent Work-Frugal Study Movement also known as Work-Study Movement, a program to bring Chinese students into France and Belgium in the early 20th century. Cooperative education.

Which of the following is called as work-study? ›

Work study may be defined as the analysis of a job for the purpose of finding the preferred method of doing it and also determining the standard time to perform it by the preferred (or given) method. Work study, therefore, comprises of two areas of study: method study (motion study) and time study (work measurement).

What are the 4 techniques of work-study? ›

Work Study Method
  • (i) To have optimum utilization of resources i.e., 4 Ms.
  • (ii) To analyse the work in order to achieve work simplification and thereby improving productivity of the system.
  • (iii) To set time standards for various jobs.
  • (iv) To evaluate the work content through work measurement.
Mar 13, 2021

What are the two components of work-study? ›

Work-study is encompassed by two techniques, i.e., method study and work measurement.

What are the 8 types of elements in work-study? ›

Eight types of element are distinguished: repetitive, occasional, constant, variable, manual, machine, governing, and foreign elements. A repetitive element is an element which occurs in every work cycle of an operation.

Should I accept my financial aid? ›

Do I Have to Accept All of My Financial Aid? Absolutely not! In fact, many financial aid experts recommend that you only accept what you really need. While accepting scholarships and grants is often harmless, you should be careful about how much you accept in student loans.

Do you have to answer every question on FAFSA? ›

There are seven sections to the FAFSA. We will cover each of these, plus give you information on what every section asks. Depending on your answers and financial situation, some sections may automatically be skipped for you by the application program. You may not have to answer all of these questions.

Do people make mistakes on FAFSA? ›

You'll have a better chance at receiving money for college if you avoid several common mistakes when filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Such mistakes include not completing the form on time, not filling it out correctly, or forgetting to sign and submit.

What question is student income from work on FAFSA? ›

This is question 35 on the FAFSA. The response indicates the amount of “wages, salaries, tips, etc.” as reported on the student's (and his/her spouse's) 2021 income tax return, IRS Form 1040–line 1 + Schedule 1, lines 3 + 6 + Box 14 (Code A) of Schedule K-1 (Form 1065).


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