What is the Federal Work Study Program?

The federal work study program is a federal program that helps students pay for their college education by helping them get part-time work. It is geared toward financially needy students. Students must meet certain income benchmarks in order to qualify. While the federal government provides funding and general guidelines, it is up to individual colleges to decide how the program is implemented. The part-time jobs will be located within the college itself or with local, state and private organizations that agreed to participate in the federal work study program.

How Federal Work Study Program Works

Under the federal work study program, the federal government provides funding to colleges and universities and other organizations involved in the program. That funding is then used to create part-time job for students and partially cover their salaries. The student's pay will vary depending on how many students are in the program, how long each student worked and the student's enrollment states.

Most work-study jobs are located on the campus. Colleges will usually try to match students to part-time jobs that fit their majors and past job experiences. Students can also apply with municipal, local and private organizations that agreed to participate in the program. The off-campus jobs must have something to do with promoting public interest in the community where the university is located. This includes things like homeless shelters, community gardens, daycare centers, etc.

The students are paid every month. The students must be paid on hourly basis, and fees and commissions are prohibited. The students can use this money any way they want. If they work on campus, they can opt to have their salary applied directly towards their tuition payments. The money students earn as part of the work-study program is not counted towards their regular income, so their financial aid eligibility is not effected.

Applying for Federal Work Study Program

The program is open to U.S. citizens, citizens of U.S. territories and permanent resident aliens. Refugees and asylum seekers can qualify if they have proper documents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Undergraduate students must be enrolled as full time students.

In order to be considered for the work-study program, students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They must clearly indicate that they are interested in applying for the federal work study program. Their colleges will then look at the FAFSA information, factor in their tuition and other charges and judge whether or not the students will be able to pay that on their own. They will then factor in grants, scholarships and other forms of financial aid the student received. If the students and their families still can't cover the costs, they are eligible for the work-study program.

The federal work study program operates on first-come, first-serve basis. Since the colleges only get a certain amount of federal funding to run the program, there are only so many students they can accept any given year. If their funding runs out and there are still eligible students, those eligible students are placed on a waiting list.

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