What is Federal College Work Study? Why is it Considered Financial Aid?
February 15th, 2011
by Rudolph Chavez
College Now Advisor
Federal College Work Study (aka “Work Study”) is a federally funded financial aid program in which the federal government awards each college that participates in the program a certain amount of subsidy to hire college students for employment. This employment is usually for jobs on campus, but can also be used for off campus positions that are community related.
What is confusing to new students when they are notified they are awarded Work Study is that these funds are not used towards their tuition, fees, room and meal plan cost. Work Study allows students to work part-time while attending school and receive a paycheck on a regular basis for ‘spending money”. Some colleges allow students to automatically deposit earnings from Work Study to their college account to cover any balance still owed on their account or used towards future bills.
For new students, it is important to find out how to go about finding a Work Study job. A college usually has a Student Employment office that is in connected with the Financial Aid office that handles posting Work Study employment opportunities. Positions on campus that hire a large number of Work Study students are Dining Services, Library, Recreation Center, Student Unions, Residence Life (desk clerks and security guards) and Academic and Student Service offices (usually for clerical work).
So why is Work Study considered financial aid if the student has to work to earn money like any other job and funds are not applied towards direct cost?
I wish there was an easy answer for this question, but there isn’t. I would rather they change the terminology from Federal College Work Study to Federally Subsidized Student Employment as that is a better description of what it is. I have students that come to me all the time thinking that Work Study means you get paid to study.
Federal College Work Study money is popular with the colleges. The federal government pays most of the student earnings while the college contributes a smaller amount. It’s a great savings to the colleges and a way to help some financially struggling students earn some extra funds to stay in school.