Is work-study worth it?

Most work-study programs have clear benefits. For one thing, they allow you to build your resume while earning money to help you pay for your education. At the same time, you can often do work that helps the community.

These may seem to be excellent reasons to sign up for a work-study program as quickly as you can. There are some considerations to weigh before jumping into it.

Remain Flexible and Act Fast

If you do qualify for work-study, find out whether your school has such a program. Talk to your school’s financial aid office to find out the details. The sooner you do this, the more likely you’ll find a work-study program that’s right for you.

If you feel work-study is worth your time, indicate that you would like to participate in such a program when you fill out your FAFSA® application and send it in early. At some schools, work-study jobs might be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apply for Jobs That Fit Your Curriculum

Try to find a job that’s related to your chosen major and, if possible, allows you to help the community. For example, if you want to become a teacher, see if there is a work-study job where you can tutor children.

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Consider Your Wages

Figure out how you’ll be able to use the wages you’ll make from your work-study job, and whether this will be worth your time while pursuing your studies. Most work-study jobs pay at least the minimum wage, but only allow students to work from 10 to 20 hours per week. At those rates, you might have enough money to cover miscellaneous expenses, but will you make enough to help you pay down your student debt?

Apply Only if You Can Handle the Workload

While you need to act fast and carefully choose a work-study job, all of this is moot if your work hours interfere with your studies. While it is true that most work-study jobs are tailored for students, if you have a heavy course load and a heavy workload in those classes, you might not have enough time to do work-study.

You might also want to hold off applying for work-study if you need the time to get used to college life.

So to sum it up: Work-study is worth a try if it pays well enough and it doesn’t interfere with your studies. Make an informed decision, and do what makes you feel comfortable.

Resources: 
Brown, Justin Chase, Owen, Chandra, and Weber, Karla. “8 Things You Should Know About Federal Work-Study.” Ed.gov. Blog. U.S. Department of Education; 8 July 2017. Web. 2 March, 2018.“Work-Study Information for Students.” University of California at Berkeley. Web. 2 March, 2018.