Financing your college education should not be a burden. However, studies have shown that many students drop out of college due to financial limitations. One way to get financial aid when enrolling in online colleges is to apply to a federal work-study program.
A point to note is that online students are as eligible as their on-campus counterparts when it comes to financial aid eligibility. Therefore, you should not hold back filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) even if you enroll in online degree programs.
Many students find the FAFSA work-study cumbersome and difficult. It is always important to read all instructions and fill up all required details to qualify. Hence, if you need extra cash to help you through your online college education, take some time for FAFSA way before the term commences.
Before going any further, it is interesting to note that more than 3,400 colleges and universities participate in federal work-study programs. So, there are plenty of colleges. However, you must ensure that the college you are enrolling in also participates in FAFSA.
What Is A Federal Work-Study Program & How It Works
A federal work-study program provides you with part-time employment while you are studying. It is available to all students, online and on-campus, enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs who need financial help, as demonstrated in the FAFSA. Work-study jobs allow you to earn while going through a college education, just like a regular job.
Positions offered as part of the work-study program can be within their college or off-campus. On-campus jobs can be any position in your college that may be related to your field or courses.
On the other hand, work outside of college must benefit the public interest. Your employers can be local, state, or federal government bodies, or even private organizations, for-profit or non-profit entities.
Even though work-study jobs must pay the federal minimum wage, many colleges prefer to hire students in work-study programs. They generally pay them lower salaries than a regular employee. Therefore, jobs do fill up fast.
The critical point here is, to be considered for work-study positions, you must have adequately shown the financial need and have a work-study award in hand as part of your federal financial aid.
How To Find Work-Study Jobs?
It would help to note that there is no guarantee that you will get a job. Even if you have demonstrated in your FAFSA and have a valid work-study award, positions are limited and fulfilled on a first-come-first-served basis.
Your college career web page and campus employment board would show work-study jobs available. Alternatively, you can meet your college financial aid or employment officers and express interest in job openings in your chosen major or related courses.
Also, note that FAFSA is applicable every year. So, if you need financial aid next year, you should prepare much earlier.
How Much Can You Earn?
As mentioned above, your salary will be the federal minimum wage. Undergraduates are usually paid by the hour. On the other hand, graduates and professional students get a monthly paycheck or paid hourly, depending on the kind of function they perform.
Although you can take-up part-time employment, your total wages cannot exceed the amount of your work-study award. Therefore, the number of hours you work in a week may be limited.
You can expect to be paid at least once every month and have the option to accept direct payments, debit to your bank, or send the money to offset college tuition or fees.
You might be considering a part-time job instead of a work-study program. Frankly, both have pros and cons. The most glaring disadvantage of a part-time job is that it may impact your federal student aid eligibility.
Hence, if you need financial aid, it is worth considering federal work-study programs. Half the battle is over if your college is accredited and participates in the program.
However, do note that FAFSA is a process you need to understand and apply in advance to receive any federal aid. So, do take time and get guidance on filling it out correctly to be considered.