Is Federal Work-Study Right For You?

Is Federal Work-Study Right For You?
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    Students finding it difficult to pay for college may be eligible to participate in the federal work-study program at their school.

    Formerly known as the College Work-Study Program, the FWS provides funds for part-time employment, enabling needy students to earn income to pay for their postsecondary education. FWS can effectively reduce your college costs.


College work study program can help you pay for college.

Participating Schools

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 3,400 schools participate in FWS, paying students wages equal to at least that of the federal minimum wage. As of this writing, that minimum is currently set at $7.25 per hour. Your school, however, can pay you above minimum wage if they choose to do so.

To be eligible for federal work-study, students must file a Free Application for Student Aid or FAFSA as part of the application process involving FWS. Likely, if you’re a student in need, you already filled out the FAFSA when you enrolled in your school. In the event that you did not, you’ll need to do so. Your tuition could be reduced too.

Employment Opportunities

Under FWS, students may be employed directly by the school; by a federal, state, or local public agency; work for a private nonprofit organization; or find employment with a private for-profit organization. Speak with your college advisor to determine eligibility.

Participating institutions must use at least 7 percent of their Work to help students who are employed in community service jobs. These include: reading tutors for preschool age or elementary school children; mathematics tutors for students enrolled in elementary school through ninth grade; literacy tutors in a family literacy project performing family literacy activities; or emergency preparedness and response.

School Participation

Participating schools are required to apply each year for FWS funding. If your school doesn’t reapply annually, then its program will come to an end. Schools enrolled in FWS generally pay half of students’ wages with the federal government picking up the other half. However, if you’re a math or reading tutor, then the government may pay up to 100 percent of that amount. As a student you won’t necessarily know the source of your funding, but such tutoring opportunities underscore government policy for encouraging such work.

Is federal work-study right for you? It can be. Especially, if you want to limit your student loan liability and leave college with a minimum amount of debt on hand. Plus, you can gain some work experience, a resume building opportunity that can prove invaluable as you seek to launch your career.

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Categories: FAFSA Form Tips