Money College: Find money through work-study programs

work-study programsIf you're like most college students, you're probably receiving some type of financial aid. Much of your tuition may be covered by scholarships, grants, or other awards.

However, we all know that there are daily expenses that scholarships and grants simply don't cover. Nearly every college student could use an extra source of income, and that's where your college's Federal Work-Study program (FWS) comes in.
The FWS program was created to provide undergraduate and graduate college students with part-time jobs on campus or at nearby businesses. In this brief guide, we take a look at how to apply for the FWS program, what types of jobs are available and how they can help you.

How do you apply?
The FWS is part of the financial aid program. Like most other types of financial aid, you'll be applying through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. All of the other deadlines, rules and restrictions that apply to the FAFSA affect the FWS program as well, so fill out this section carefully.

If it's determined that you qualify for work study, the next step is to meet with your campus student work director. This title varies from school to school, so ask your financial aid or student aid department if you have any trouble. Your meeting with the student work director will help you determine which work study job is right for you.

What types of jobs are available?
It's up to each college or university to determine how they distribute funds for work study. Typically, work-study jobs take place on campus, and can involve light clerical or cleaning work. An effort is often made to match you with a job in your chosen major's department. Sometimes, work-study jobs are off campus, often in community service-oriented positions.

If there's a particular job or type of job you'd prefer, don't hesitate to meet with your student work director. FWS jobs are often assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

How do you get paid?
FWS jobs pay, at a minimum, the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Depending on the job type, however, you may be paid more. Usually pay is hourly, though sometimes for grad students, pay can be salaried.

The information you provided on your FAFSA determines the total amount you're allowed to earn in a given semester or quarter. You cannot receive more than your allotted amount in that time period.

Students can receive their FWS pay in a number of ways. Some students choose to have a certain amount applied to their tuition. Others choose to be paid by check, or have the funds directly deposited into their student checking account. It's up to you to choose what works best for your needs.

The Federal Work Study program is a great way to earn some extra cash or offset the cost of going to school. As explained above, there are programs out there to make this easier for you, but following through is up to you. Before you can get to work, you need to put in some work first.
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