What is Work Study in College and Why Should You Consider it?


We all know the stereotypes about college students being perpetually broke. The jokes might be funny but when you’re in that situation, it’s not so laughable. That’s why so many college students try to earn extra money with work study jobs.

What is work study in college? How does it work and is it the right solution for your money woes?

What Is Work Study in College?

When people talk about work study, they’re usually talking about the Federal Work-Study Program. In this program, the US government gives each college a set amount of money they can use to hire students for on-campus jobs.

Those jobs should either be within your area of study or they should be helping the local community. For example, if you’re studying education, your work study job might be assisting professors with certain processes and tasks.

There are important considerations to keep in mind. First, the Federal Work-Study Program is only available to students who are under certain income limits based on their FAFSA. Second, you’ll need to pay taxes on your work study pay like any other income, so be sure to keep every paycheck stub for your records.

The Benefits of Work Study in College

Should you apply for your school’s work study program? There are clear benefits to getting one of these coveted jobs.

Making Extra Money

The obvious benefit of work study is the income. Most of these jobs pay minimum wage or close to it, but that’s better than earning no additional income. College students typically have low living expenses so work study jobs could be all you need to get your grocery money.

Added Work Experience

A major hurdle for new college graduates is finding a job without applicable work experience. As we noted, though, many work study jobs are within the student’s area of study. When you graduate, you’ll have a leg up on other new graduates while applying for full-time jobs.

Of course, not all work study jobs are related to your chosen field. Still, any amount of work experience shows that you’re responsible and know how to maintain a job.

Disadvantages of Work Study

There are always disadvantages to consider, and work study jobs are no exception. Before you jump for an application, keep these points in mind.

More Time in a Busy Schedule

College is time-consuming, often more than a full-time job. The average student studies 17 hours per week in addition to the time they spend in classes.

This will be far higher when you have critical tests and projects. Many students add extracurriculars or sports to that workload too. The result is a busy schedule, and work study jobs add to this time crunch.

Heavy Competition

The federal government allocates a certain amount of money to your college for work study. When they’ve filled enough positions to pay out all that money, the opportunities are gone.

As a result, many schools have huge numbers of work study applications so the competition for those jobs is stiff. Don’t assume that you’ll get a work study position if you apply for one.

Weighing Work Study Pros and Cons

Every college student’s needs are different, and work study may be right for some but not for others. At the end of the day, you need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself and decide if it’s right for you.