The Federal Work-Study Program is an income contingent financial aid option. This program is great for any student but especially for returning adult students who are looking to return to college, or just to begin their college careers, on a full-time/day-time basis.
The government decides on the amount of your Work Study Award. This is money you will not have to pay back. Work-Study is not a loan, nor is it a grant. This is you getting paid by the government to working for your school. The program is limited not only by the amount of your award. It is also limited by the number of hours you can work.
If for example you are attending a four year university, and the semester will run twelve weeks. You are limited to Twenty hours a week. If, lets say, your award is $500 for the semester you will need to keep very good records. Also don’t forget that the earnings you have from work-study are taxable. Keep track of your hours worked and how often you are paid.
These six simple steps are the first to finding a work-study position.
1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (Also known as the FAFSA)
*You can find this application online at www.fafsa.edu.gov. This application looks not only at income but also family size and the year in school/what school you plan on attending. This is the first step, sometimes even more so than filling out the college application. If you think you may want to attend a college or university this year fill the FAFSA out ASAP!
2. Get accepted to your college.
*I know this sounds stupid, however the federal government will not be sending you a check or employment information. The schools hold this and you must be enrolled to qualify.
3. Speak with the Financial Aid department at your college.
*The staff there are well informed on all matters of Financial Aid. They can tell you your schools policies.
4. Call the departments with Work-Study openings.
*And visit the departments that you are interested in. Sometimes a professor or department head will help you find a work-study position even if one is not currently being announced.
5. Schedule the interview.
*Even though the government is paying the school your salary you will still need to be hired by the department where you will be working. Follow all the guidlines set up for interviewing in the “real” world. Bring a resume and dress for the occasion.
6. Know this one last important fact.
* Most schools have academic requirements for you to continue with your work-study. Also most colleges will not pay you for work during hours you are to be in class.
Work-Study can open many different doors for you. By being a good employee the school may decide to hire you as a temporary part-time employee during breaks, (again this is a plus for returning adults). Also the department where you are working can be in your major this can be helpful after you complete your degree and start looking for a job. Most work-study supervisors will give glowing references as long as you have been good to them. Show up when you are supposed to be at work. And work hard in your classes. Federal work-study can be a win win situation for both you and the college.