Using Work Study to Pay for College and to Make Student Payments
College is a dream for many students, but sometimes, it is not affordable even when you put your best effort into making it happen. Fortunately for students, grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and work study programs help to make it possible for all students to head off to college.
While grants do not have to be paid back, not all students will qualify for them and this money is often reserved for those students who are in financial need of the money. Student loans are available to all students, but depending on your program, you may be left in need of more money. This is where the work study program comes in. You could also use this program to bridge the gap between how much grant money you get and how much you need to take out in loans.
What is the Work Study Program?
The work study program is a type of financial aid that allows you to work a part-time job and in return, you can afford to pay for college without fully relying on federal student loans. The process to get hired is much easier than a traditional job and you are able to work flexible hours that fit around your school schedule.
You may be wondering why you might choose this option over simply getting hired by a traditional employer and working a regular job. Well, there are some benefits and they are actually quite lucrative.
For starters, if you work a traditional job, you will automatically lose some of the benefits you were once offered. For example, if you make over $6,400, you will lose up to $800 or more of your financial aid eligibility. This means that your financial aid package will be $800 LESS than if you took the work study job.
When you have a job in the work study program, the money you earn does not affect your financial aid package as a regular job does. Also, your employer is required to work around your schedule where a traditional employer does not have to be flexible with your scheduling.
When a student applies for the work study program, they are allotted a certain amount of money that can be earned, but the student must work to earn the money. Students are often paid by the hour and the wage is right around minimum wage, maybe a bit higher.
What Jobs Are Available in the Program?
There are a variety of work study jobs available and most of them are on campus, but you may find an opportunity to work off campus too.
You will find that the work study jobs are jobs that you find around your campus already such as working in the dining hall, library, in the book store, or even in the administration office.
The jobs are not too difficult in nature and they do not necessarily require you to have previous experience or a degree, which is nice for students who are still new to the workforce.
How Work Study Can Help You Save Money and Make Student Loan Payments
Work study is a great option for students who want to save money and put extra money towards their student loan payments. The way work study can help you save money is easy. If you apply for and are accepted to the work study program, you may be awarded $5,000 for aid. This money is then earned when you secure a job and perform the work. Since you will receive this $5,000, that is $5,000 less that you will have to borrow in the form of a student loan. This means that you do not have to pay interest on that $5,000 and you do not even have to borrow it.
If you participate in the work study program for four semesters and receive $5,000 for each year, then you would earn approximately $10,000. This is $10,000 less that you need to take out in loans.
Also, you have a few options when it comes to getting paid. You can choose to have the money sent directly to your school to cover the cost of your tuition, room, and food, or you can choose to have the money deposited into your bank account.
If you have the money sent to your bank account, you can use it as you need to and allocate money to your tuition, any interest for student loans, student loan payments, books, etc.
Often times, students will choose to take out minimal federal student loans to cover the cost of school and use the work study money to pay for their living expenses and necessities. If you receive grant money, you may not even need to take out any federal student loans and you can pay for your classes and use the work study money as needed.
Final Thoughts on Work Study Programs
It is important for you to research your options and consider all of the ones available to you. Work study is a great option for many students and it allows you to save money instead of having to borrow a bunch of federal student loans that you have to pay back.
When it comes to the work study program, it is important that you understand this program is not simply just handed out to you. It is your responsibility to find a job and then keep that job. Just because you are in the work study program does not give you a free pass and you can be fired from your job leaving you in a bind.
If you do want to consider work study as an option, make sure to select “Yes” on the FAFSA where it asks you if you would like to participate in work study. Once your FAFSA is approved, you will learn how much you are eligible to receive through this program.
The work study program is a great financial aid offering for many students and you will find that this additional opportunity helps to bridge the gap between your cost of attendance and cash you have available.