Working students should pick a job as carefully as choosing a major.
You don’t want to sell yourself short by taking just any gig with a paycheck, especially if it won’t offer valuable experience. You’ll also want an employment opportunity that works with your schedule and won’t affect your studies.
Whether you’re considering work-study vs. internships or part-time jobs, here’s how to make your best choice possible.
Review the pros and cons of:
Let’s start the work-study vs. internship debate with federal and school-sourced work-study programs. They’re a win-win: Students gain part-time work experience that helps to pay for school, and employers receive low-cost help in the workplace.
To qualify for the federal work-study program, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your level of financial aid dictates whether you’ll be awarded a work-study spot (as well as other forms of financial aid, such as grants and student loans).
|● Positions are usually on-campus
● Tuition assistance (and sometimes pay)
● Career experience
|● Positions may be competitive or scarce
● Compensation may be low
Even if your financial aid award letter doesn’t include a federal work-study grant, less formal work-study positions can be found right on campus through your school’s career services center. Some may be based off-campus as well.
Here’s an important factor to consider when weighing work-study vs. an internship: A work-study job can save you money on gas, travel expenses or commute time, since you’ll likely be on-campus or nearby, whereas an internship could require a car.
With work-study, you can save time and use it wisely by attending class, earning academic credits and otherwise focusing on your studies.
Unlike an outside part-time job, a work-study position is a school-sponsored position. It’s a form of financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid and may even reimburse some of your tuition costs.
Work-study positions may also offer a small hourly rate you can earn. As an example, during my time as an undergrad journalism major, the work-study position I held was writing and editing for a local arts newsletter. The position provided tuition assistance and part-time pay at the same time.
You don’t necessarily have to choose between work-study vs. internship — some positions fall into both categories at once, and can lead to valuable experience. I was lucky to find one that dovetailed with my major, gave me relevant experience and paid modestly.
Find a work-study gig that complements what you’re studying in school, and it becomes more than a job — it enhances your curriculum.
|Did you know?|
|There are 40-plus cities nationally where student wages cover education costs, according to our 2018 study on working through college.|
Unlike part-time job opportunities, which are numerous, there may be a shortage of options in the work-study program you’re interested in.
If you’re attending a smaller college, there may be less work-study opportunities overall. On a larger campus, competition from other students may mean the position you want gets filled and won’t be available until the next academic term.
The Department of Education recommends that you complete your FAFSA as early as possible to access the federal work-study program’s limited funds.
Work-study isn’t like a job where you can request a desired wage or salary. Depending on the award, your financial aid assistance (or pay) is set by the school. If the pay is low, your work-study program may feel like volunteering at times.
Federal work-study only guarantees that you’ll make the federal minimum wage, which was $7.25 as of July 2020. If you study and work in a state with a higher minimum wage, however, you’d enjoy that local bump in pay.
You may not be able work overtime either, as the federal work-study program generally limits students to 20 hours of work per week.
Unlike work-study programs, internships don’t consider your level of financial need as determined by the FAFSA. You can find them via your career services department, attending job fairs and networking with alumni — just some of the ways to make the most of your college experience.
|● Vital career exposure
● Might lead to a job
|● Might be unpaid
● You may not like it
An internship in your chosen career field can give you the hands-on experience and exposure you need to land your first job post-graduation.
Internships also allow students to learn more about the workings of their would-be job industry, meet future colleagues and build skills. An internship on your resume and a positive reference from your supervisor are key assets to getting hired in the future.
Here’s a major point in the column of internships vs. work-study: Make a positive impression, and the company or organization you intern with off-campus might just end up becoming your first full-time job after graduation. Many internships segue into part-time or full-time positions.
Meanwhile, employers participating in work-study programs might be less likely to offer a permanent position; they can always hire the next college kid waiting in line.
Your foot is already in the door with an internship, giving you a competitive edge over other job applicants who don’t have previous internship experience with the organization. It could keep you from being unemployed right out of college.
The price many students pay for an internship slot is no pay at all. Internships are often unpaid, with career experience serving as the sole compensation.
If you have expenses and student loans to pay, you may find yourself struggling to cover bills, attend classes and fulfill your internship. That’s one of many reasons to be wary of unpaid internships.
Your internship may teach you that you don’t actually like working in the career path you’ve picked. Or worse, you’ve been delegated to menial job duties that nobody else will take.
While an internship can be a great opportunity for you to discover your strengths and weaknesses, it can also mean that you might need to change majors or reassess your educational or career goals.
Lining up a part-time college job might seem trickier, but there could be more opportunities, particularly if you’re willing to work off-campus. That’s one of the pros to consider for this employment type.
|● Greater variety of opportunities
● Real-world environment
|● Wage and work inflexibility
● Commuting costs
An off-campus job isn’t tied to a school in any way, so you’re free to look for any type of work you like, wherever you choose, online and off.
Additionally, you’re not limited in a number of hours you seek or how much money you can potentially earn. Unlike work-study, which is restricted to financial aid and school budget requirements, you may hit upon an off-campus job that pays far higher than you’d expect.
Start by considering college jobs that pay above minimum wage.
Finding a part-time position off-campus may open the door to social and professional networking opportunities with people outside of the college community.
If you’re seeking a more professional position, it also gives the chance to hone your resume, cover letter and interviewing skills. A part-time job will offer you real-world, career dynamics that could serve you well after graduation when you hit the job market.
Unless your part-time job is under the table, your pay is taxable income. The amount you earn with your job could affect the amount you receive in financial aid — your Expected Family Contribution could increase, for example — whereas a work-study job is financial aid and won’t penalize you.
Although a work-study position on campus may establish specific hours for you to work, a part-time job places your employment at the discretion of your employer. They’re free to increase or decrease your pay or hours as they wish, which may interfere with your class schedule.
|Did you know?|
|About 1 in 4 working students have skipped class for their job, according to our 2020 survey on college employment.|
Outside employment is also at-will in most states, so your job can be terminated at any time.
Gas, bus or train fare to commute off-campus to a part-time job can cut into the wages you earn. If you’re only able to work a few hours a week, these expenses can drastically minimize what you may earn.
One workaround is to work from anywhere: Seek out remote jobs for college students that only require a laptop and internet access.
Your class schedule permitting, look for a mixture of opportunities that imparts the experience and income you need while in school, particularly if you’re paying for college without parental help.
Instead of solely comparing work-study vs. internships, for example, think outside the box. You could divide your efforts between a part-time, unpaid internship and a part-time, paid position. This could be a good compromise that will earn you some money and give you resume-building skills.
If you’re limited to a work-study job, check with your school about the size of the paycheck. If the work-study program is only one semester long, you can search for a paid internship or part-time job for the following semester. This will let you move from one opportunity to the next.
Most of all, assess your own personal and educational preferences. Everyone’s situation — academic, financial and otherwise — is different.
Pursuing paid employment of any kind as a student puts you on the road to making sure that college pays off, and is paid off in the long-run. But it’s not the only way to lower your expenses — review other ways to discount college costs.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2022!
|1.19% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate|
|1.62% – 11.73%*,2||Undergraduate|
|0.94% – 11.44%3||Undergraduate|
|1.64% – 11.45%4||Undergraduate|
|1.89% – 11.92%5||Undergraduate|
|0.00% – 23.00%8||Undergraduate|
|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 4/19/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.19% APR to 10.14% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada.
4 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs
Rates are effective as of 05/01/2022 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates.
1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 3.47% to 11.16% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.89% to 11.92% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60to 11.06% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 2.59% to 11.82% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.48% to 11.16% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.69% to 11.92% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. 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. Information current as of 05/04/2022. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Loans originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 3.48% – 11.64% (3.48% – 10.78% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.89% – 11.64% (4.89% – 11.34% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 10.39% (4.49% – 9.68% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.43% – 9.19% (4.44% – 8.89% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.80%-8.23% (4.80%-8.24% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).
ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), 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. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have 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, or other student 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 and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval 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.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7 Important Disclosures for Funding U.
Funding U Disclosures
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.
8 Important Disclosures for Edly.
1. Loan Example:
About this example
The initial payment schedule is set upon receiving final terms and upon confirmation by your school of the loan amount. You may repay this loan at any time by paying an effective APR of 23%. The maximum amount you will pay is $22,500 (not including Late Fees and Returned Check Fees, if any). The maximum number of regularly scheduled payments you will make is 60. You will not pay more than 23% APR. No payment is required if your gross earned income is below $30,000 annually or if you lose your job and cannot find employment.
2. Edly Student IBR Loans are unsecured personal student loans issued by FinWise Bank, a Utah chartered commercial bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to eligibility criteria and review of creditworthiness and history. Terms and conditions apply.