Cooperative education opportunities

Work-study is a program that provides college students with jobs. It allows them to earn money to pay for their education while, at the same time, gaining valuable workplace experience.

Many students find the term “work-study” to be confusing. A common misconception is that anyone who is employed while enrolled in a post-secondary program is eligible to receive work-study benefits from the federal government. This is not the case. Work-study refers to a specific financial aid program that creates jobs for students who can demonstrate financial need.

There are work-study programs in existence at several different levels. The most prominent is the federal program, but state governments also provide financial aid through work-study programs, as do some colleges and universities.

Federal Work-Study

To apply for a federal work-study, be sure to submit a FAFSA form on time. For the question that asks if you are interested in student employment, select “yes.” If you qualify for work-study, you’ll be notified in your financial aid award letter from the government. You’re then free to apply for work-study positions.

The federal government work-study program provides students with part-time jobs that, whenever possible, are focused around community service work related to each student’s course of study. Most jobs are on campus or with public, non-profit organizations, but some students may be permitted to work in a career-related position within the private sector.

Students earn at least minimum wage, but in some cases, wages may be higher if specialized skills are required for the job. Students are paid directly by their school, unless they have specifically requested that the money be automatically put towards tuition or other educational costs. Wages are paid by the hour.

A student may not exceed 20 hours of work per week and may not earn more than his or her awarded amount. For a student who receives a $2,000 award, that works out to about ten hours of work per week over the course of a normal school year.

How to Find a Work-Study Position

Finding a work-study position is not difficult. Once you have received notice that you are eligible for work-study, follow these steps:

  • Print out a copy of your financial aid award letter to show to potential employers.
  • Consult your college’s career center to find postings of work-study jobs. Look for jobs that are relevant to your course of study.
  • Apply for a position as you would for any other job.
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