Can Work Study Jobs Really Offset College Costs?

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The best financial aid is the kind you don’t have to pay back. And work study jobs offer just that.

However, you will spend plenty of time earning that money with work-study, so it’s important to make sure it’s a good fit.

And while It’s a great way to earn extra money in college, work-study has its own set of rules that can be quite different from regular employment.

So before you start counting on it as a source of financial aid, make sure you know what to expect from work study jobs.

What’s the Federal Work-Study program?

The U.S. Department of Education funds the Federal Work-Study Program (FSW), a form of financial aid that students need not pay back. There are approximately 3,400 participating postsecondary schools that currently receive FSW funds.

How much each school gets depends on how much the school received previously, as well as how many students demonstrated need the previous academic year. Each institution must reapply every year for work-study funds.

Most participating schools offer their own work-study jobs on campus. They can also enter into partnerships with third-party, off-campus employers as well.

Depending on the job, schools may be responsible for paying up to 50 percent of wages for federal work study jobs. Then, the remaining wages are funded by the federal government.

That said, there are some positions for which the Federal Work-Study Program covers everything, like tutoring in reading and math.

To find out if your school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program, start by contacting their financial aid office.

How do I get set up with work study jobs?

Federal work-study is awarded the same way as any other type of student aid. That is, if you are interested in a work-study job (or any other kind of financial assistance), you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

If you’ve never filled one out before, check out our guide on how to correctly do so. Essentially, as long as you demonstrate financial need, you may qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program.

Work study hours and jobs at participating schools are open to:

· Part-time students

· Full-time students

· Undergraduates

· Graduates

· Professional students

Qualifying for this program will depend on a couple of factors, including the amount of your Expected Family Contribution and the availability of work-study jobs at your school.

And if you end up qualifying for work-study, it will be included in your school’s financial aid offer.

What types of work study jobs are available?

Participating schools offer work-study positions in community service and areas specific to your course of study.

You could find yourself working on-campus, employed by your school. Or, you may find yourself in an off-campus work study job for a government agency, non-profit organization, or even a private for-profit company.

A minimum of seven percent of available jobs must be community service-oriented in areas like tutoring and emergency preparedness and response. Additionally, any work study jobs you take with a private for-profit company must be relevant to your course of study.

Keep in mind that simply qualifying for the work-study program does not guarantee you job placement. It’s up to you to apply for available work-study positions.

That’s why it is so important to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, especially if jobs are limited. Your school’s financial aid office can point you in the right direction for your work-study job search.

Make sure you take some time to updating your resume, working on your cover letters, and prepping for those interviews. You might only get one chance at taking advantage of work study jobs.

What can I expect with a work study job?

Your schedule

All federal work study jobs have part-time hours, the number of which will depend on the amount of aid you are awarded. They’re also flexible hours dependent on your class schedule.

On the one hand, the part-time nature of work-study ensures you have plenty of time to study. However, your income is limited. So temper your expectations of this financial aid source and work study hours accordingly.

Your pay

All federal work-study jobs must pay at least the federal minimum wage.

However, some jobs could pay more. It just depends on the demands of the job, as well as your experience and skill level.

How you get paid

If you’re an undergraduate, you will be paid by the hour.

And if you are a graduate or professional student, you could be paid hourly. Or, it might be a salaried position depending on the nature of the work.

Unlike other financial aid sources, work-study money is paid directly to you. Frequency varies, but you must be paid at least once a month.

Budget wisely

Since work-study funds are paid out to you directly, you have complete control over how this financial aid is used.

So if you haven’t already, get yourself on a basic college budget and use your work-study income wisely.

How does work-study compare to a regular job?

Any opportunity to work for extra money in college can be a good one. But if you’re torn between work-study and a regular job, keep in mind a few key differences:

Type of job

Who knows what kind of regular job you could find yourself settling for.

At least with work-study, you know your position will be in community service or in the very field you’re in school to learn about in the first place.

Scheduling

When you have a regular job, your employer isn’t going to prioritize your class schedule.

While they may try and work around it, there is no guarantee. There’s also the challenge of taking time off to go home during the holidays.

With work-study, though, it’s all about working around your needs as a student.

Impact on student aid eligibility

Work-study pay counts as a grant. Therefore, the income does not affect your other student aid eligibility.

On the other hand, if you just got a regular job, it does affect your eligibility and could mean less student aid in the future.

Earnings potential

This is where a work-study job comes up a bit short.

While it helps that no Social Security or Medicare taxes will come out of your paycheck for a work-study job, earnings potential is limited.

It is possible to earn more than minimum wage in certain positions. However, you can never work more work-study hours than your award allows.

Are work study jobs worth it?

Submit your FAFSA and see what happens. If you qualify for work-study, great. Apply for the available jobs and go through the interview process.

Worst case scenario, you don’t find anything that works and you look for a job elsewhere. Best case scenario, you find the perfect fit and get paid to learn about something you love.

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LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 6.990% APR to 14.865% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.255% APR to 12.555% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 1, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.255% APR assumes current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 4.425% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

    To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.See Consumer Licenses.
  2. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  3. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  4. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan of $15,000 with a term of 24 months, and qualify for at least two of the following discounts: (1) add a co-borrower who has sufficient income; (2) use at least fifty percent of the loan proceeds to directly pay off existing debt; or (3) show proof of having at least forty-thousand dollars in retirement savings – contact FreedomPlus for further details.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
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5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.49% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.16% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% and the average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
6.26% – 14.87%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
6.99% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% – 25.00%2$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
4.99% – 29.99%3$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
5.99% – 18.99%4$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% – 34.49%5$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
6.16% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
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