The Federal Work-Study program is a federally funded program that assists students with the costs of post-secondary education.
The work-study program allows students to work in a variety of part-time capacities while building their resumes and time management skills.
Unlike scholarships, grants and loans, a work-study award must be earned through the part-time employment. You will never have to pay back your work-study award, but the amount you are eligible for is generally much smaller than other forms of financial aid.
Working while going to school offers you:
- Pocket money
- Flexibility with schedule
- Improved time management
- Job experience
- Connections across campus
Eligibility for the program is based on financial need determined after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.)
Federal work-study pays you just like any other job, so the income is subject to federal and state payroll taxes and should be reported when you file your taxes. However, your work-study income does not count against your FAFSA financial aid award.
There is no minimum or maximum amount of “work-study” that you will see in your financial aid letter. The exact amount will depend on your school's work-study program. Usually, the eligible amount is anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per year.
With a work-study job, you are guaranteed to earn at least the federal minimum wage. If the state minimum wage is higher, you will earn at least the state minimum wage.
Unlike other types of financial aid, work-study earnings are not applied directly to your tuition and fees. Students who are awarded work-study receive the funds in a paycheck as they earn them, based on hours worked, just like a normal job. These earnings are meant to help with the day-to-day expenses that students have and are not meant to cover large costs like tuition and housing.