When you’re considering how to pay for college, one option that you’ve probably heard about is work-study. The U.S. Department of Education says federal work-study (FWS) is a part-time employment program that helps qualifying students to finance the costs of college. In other words, you qualify to work a specific job, earn money, and then you can use that money to pay for college costs. The government subsidizes your pay. Currently, approximately 3,400 schools offer FWS as a form of financial aid to students.
JT Peifer, a financial aid advisor at the University of Virginia, has the answers to all your work-study questions, from eligibility to fund usage. Read on and learn more about work-study, to see if it’s right for you.
Tell us a little bit more: What is work-study?
Work-study is a federal work program available for students with demonstrated need, which falls under the designation of campus programs within the Higher Education Act. This means that although the funds are designated from the federal government, and some eligibility criteria is moderated through the Department of Education, the school may maintain separate eligibility requirements as long as they do not contradict the federal strictures. The program pays no more than 75% of wages to eligible students, with the school, nonprofit program, or government agency paying the other 25%.
How do you know if you’re eligible for FWS?
If your school is Title IV eligible, after you complete their need-based financial aid application process (FAFSA and sometimes the CSS Profile), you are notified of your eligibility via your financial aid award.
Are funds applied to your tuition?
No; these funds are wages that are paid to the student through a paycheck. So, they should not be anticipated funds when considering the cost of school. Most students use these funds for living expenses, books, and other personal expenses, as they are not available to pay your tuition bills at the start of your semester.