After adding up scholarships, loans, and a variety of other financial aid, many students still find themselves short when it comes to paying their college tuition, not to mention daily living expenses. In such cases, students can turn to college work study programs part time employment geared to accommodate a student’s academic schedule to help make ends meet. Here are some programs available to students.
FEDERAL WORK STUDY (FWS) PROGRAM
Eligible schools are allocated federal funds to provide employment to eligible students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Currently, 3,400 universities and colleges nationwide participate in the FWS program. Eligible students must show financial need, and annual FWS earnings cannot exceed their maximum federal work study award, an amount determined by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Undergraduates are paid hourly at minimum wage or more, depending on the skills needed for the particular job; graduate students are often given an annual salary. Work hours must be arranged to accommodate a student’s class schedule and cannot exceed 19 hours per week. Students are matched to jobs that relate to their major, or they provide community service. Employers contribute 25 percent of the student’s salary.
Jobs can be located on or off campus. Campus jobs may include food service, providing security, or departmental research assistance. Other jobs involve student services such as library work, tutoring, or campus social and health services. Schools participating in the FWS program must direct at least 7 percent of their funding to off campus jobs in local communities. Such jobs strive to better the life or environment of residents, many of whom reside in low income neighborhoods. Students may serve as summer camp counselors, tutor preschool or elementary children, provide literacy work for new immigrants, work in child care centers, or assist in area hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. They may also participate in conservation programs such as helping to save wetlands or restoring historical sites.
STATE WORK-STUDY (SWS) PROGRAMS
State funded work study programs are also available to eligible students. Employment is ideally linked with a student’s course of study. Financial need is necessary to be eligible for all of these programs, though other requirements vary by state. Most programs require U.S. citizenship (or legal immigrant status) and proven state residency; priority funding is awarded to students who have full time status. Students must also not have any student loans in default.
Program awards are set up by the financial aid office of each school, but may vary depending on how much money is allocated by the state. For example, students participating in Minnesota’s SWS program can earn up to $1,500 annually. In Pennsylvania, however, students can earn up to $7,200 a year, half during the school year and the remainder during the summer. Students employed under the SWS program work part time during the school year (about 10 to 15 hours a week); this number increases to full time during summer break.
Students can work on campus or off, in jobs similar to those provided by the FWS program. Some work study programs can function as internships, especially if they are linked to a student’s major.
NON WORK STUDY PART TIME EMPLOYMENT
Many colleges and universities also offer part time jobs to students who are not participating in a federal- or state-funded program. In these cases, students need not demonstrate financial need, only a desire to work. Jobs are located on campus, but in a variety of settings. For example, at Saint Xavier University, located in Chicago, Illinois, students can work in the groundskeeping department maintaining campus grounds and gardens, or they can check student identification cards at the athletic center, or work as lab assistants in the department of nursing. At the University of California-San Diego, students can work part time at the university book store stocking shelves, staffing the retail desk, or helping students find the correct textbook and supplies. Students with sales experience and computer knowledge can work in computer sales or support. They might help customers with hardware and software questions and purchases, and stock merchandise. Both jobs pay about $7.50 an hour, with work schedules of up to 19 hours per week.
APPLYING FOR THE JOB
For federal or state work study programs, your first step in the job search process is submitting the FAFSA to determine your amount of federal work study award. Employment opportunities for such programs, as well as part time non work studyjobs, can be found at your schools financial aid office or student employment center. You can also research job opportunities in the classified section of your campus newspaper, local newspaper, or department newsletter. Let your teachers, guidance counselor, and friends know you are interested in employment they may be privy to jobs before they are posted to the general student body. You can also search your school’s Web site for available job opportunities and descriptions.
The key is to start early, as many work study jobs are filled quickly, and awarded on a first come, first served basis. Federal work study jobs are posted in August. If you don’t find your dream job in the beginning of the semester, don’t despair. Job opportunities can become available during the middle of the school year due to vacancies, or as need arises. Don’t be afraid to be choosy when it comes to accepting a position. It’s as important to find a job that fits with your school schedule and course load, and gives important work experience, as it is to find one that provides financial benefits.