The federal work-study program was never designed to pay for college. The number of hours allowed, 10-15 per week, at near minimum wage will be enough to help with ancillary expenses.
Most students find that work-study gives them advantages beyond the money. It is a job that is forced to comply with all of the demands of your class schedules without penalizing you for it. Your employer has to work with you. This is a tremendous advantage when there are special projects and meeting times. It’s also good during finals when most colleges switch schedules about to make room for finals that require longer times than the standard class period.
Many schools try to fit work-study students into jobs associated with their major. This means more interaction with instructors and departmental people. It can give a leg up and getting the best opportunities for internships and such. This extra contact can also be beneficial when looking for references for employment or graduate school.
The money received for this work is usually enough to help pay for the student’s social life. It keeps them from being always left behind because finances are too short to go out for a cup of gourmet coffee. Sometimes, if the student is exceptionally frugal, it can be used to help with clothing and books.
The $600 to $800 per semester of most awards is small compared to the cost of books, fees, tuition, and room and board. It is often better with the benefits than most part-time off-campus jobs.