Thursday, August 15, 2013

Federal Work Study: The Best Kind of College Jobs

Financial aid isn't just about having money handed to you.

Read this if: 


1) You want to know what Federal Work Study is. 

2) You want to know how to get one. 

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As part of my financial aid package for college, I get what they call Federal Work Study (I just say "work study"). Work study is great for many reasons, and if you get some kind of financial aid, then you are probably eligible for a work study position as well. 



What is it? 

Just think of a work study as a part-time job, because that's exactly what it is. There are special benefits, but while you're working, it really doesn't matter - you still have to show up, do work, and do a good job. 


Why is it special? 


Federal work study wages (your earnings) don't count towards your financial aid calculations. Basically, if you had $2000 from a work study position, it's like you have zero when people look at how much money you have when determining financial aid. That is great news for anyone who is trying to maximize the amount of financial aid they get. 


How do you get one? 


It is a three-step process. You have to first fill out the FAFSA (I don't know what it stands for, but it's a financial aid form that most students fill out every year to get financial aid). There is a question on the form that asks if you want to be considered for Federal Work Study. Make sure you check "yes." 


Then, you have to wait to hear back sometime in the summer. Ideally, you'd get approved, and you will be told how much money you can make through the work study program. An example: If your financial aid package says you can make $2000 through work study in the 2013-2014 school year, then once you hit $2000 in earnings, you can't work anymore, even if you technically still have time left. Also, if you don't make $2000 by the time the school year ends, then you don't get the money. 

The last step: Just like applying for any part-time job, you have to actually go find a job that will accept work study funds. This is usually listed on your university's financial aid website somewhere. Once you find the job, you have to actually apply, and then you have to actually get accepted. (I'm making this really clear, because sometimes people think it's free money or something). I have seen people do all sorts of stuff for work study, including tutoring and research. 

Good luck! 

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Plan of Action: 

1) Consider checking "yes" to work study jobs when filling out the FAFSA this year! 
2) If you haven't filled out the FAFSA, I highly suggest that you do (unless you or your parents are super rich). 

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Have you guys had really good or bad work study experiences? Let me know in the comments. 

As always, contact me with questions or suggestions! You can either comment directly on the post or send me an email to moneymattersjoan@gmail.com. 

Photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

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