How to know if you qualify for federal work study?

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

How to know if you qualify for federal work-study? In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about passing the eligibility criteria for federal work-study.  

What is a federal work-study program? 

The Federal Work-Study Program provides undergraduate and graduates with part-time jobs. Through the job, a student can earn money to pay for his college tuition and other expenses. Only the schools participating in the federal work-study program allow their students to take benefit from it. 

The job that the program offers allows students to apply for academic, administrative, and clerical tasks. It has to be related to their field of study. The work-study program provides part-time jobs on or off-campus.

How is a federal work-study job different from an internship?

An internship is oftentimes completed after graduation, while a federal work-study job can help you earn money during your college life. Only certain types of companies offer internships whereas a federal work-study school supplies its student with jobs from various kinds of organizations all over the U.S.

In certain cases, if you are unable to find an internship in your area you can use a federal work-study as your fallback option. 

Do the eligibility criteria vary from school to school?

As it was said before, federal work-study can only be taken part in by students who are enrolled in certain colleges and universities. There's a specific criterion for this program and it may vary depending on your college or university. In order to qualify as a beneficiary of the system, you have to meet certain conditions as mentioned below in the article.

What will I do on my federal work-study?  

You'll find out more about your duties once you're hired. But here are some of the tasks you would most likely do: 

  • Help make photocopies or sort papers in libraries or administrative offices.  
  • Clean tables, floors, and restrooms in cafeterias, hallways, and classrooms.  
  • Provide security for buildings by patrolling parking lots and watching surveillance cameras.  

How much time does federal work-study take?

The work-study program itself is designed to provide students with part-time jobs which can be completed within 20 hours every week. But the number of working hours may vary, based on your school's policy and position applied for.

How much does a federal work-study student make?

Each school has a different minimum wage for its students. As a rule of thumb, universities have a high minimum wage for their work-study students to ensure that they do not take part in this program only to gain experience while doing other things at the same time.

This is acceptable within schools though since students who are offered this opportunity typically have GPAs above 2.0 and an excellent completion rate so chances are they won't use it as a mere excuse to slack off from studying or taking up another job during their studies.  

How will I get paid?

This depends on how much your employer is willing to pay you. The most a student can earn a year through a federal work-study program is $3,000. This number can go up if the organization that employs him has no limit of payment per hour of work. In some cases, organizations may choose not to compensate their employees at all and allow them only to gain experience for future employment opportunities. 

The Eligibility criteria

To find out if you are eligible to take part in the Work-Study Program:

  • You must complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. 
  • Have an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) demonstrating financial need. You can visit the financial aid office of your school to know about your EFC in case you aren't sure.  
  • You must be a part-time student (enrolled in at least one credit hour) or a full-time student. 
  • The college you study in must be a participating member of the Federal Work-Study program. 
  • You must have a GPA of at least 2.0. 
  • You also need a completion rate of at least 67% or higher. 
  • Students with a higher GPA and better completion rates would be mostly given preference. 

Other requirements:

  • You must be a U.S citizen, a permanent/national resident, or a non-citizen who is eligible. 
  • If you do not belong to the Freely Associated States, you must have an SSN (Social Security Number). 
  • You must own a High School Diploma or be a GED certificate holder (equivalent to a high school diploma). 
  • If you're home-schooled, then you must have completed the required homeschooling curriculum. 

What is the process for applying to the federal work-study program? 

  1. Complete a FAFSA form. 
  2. Fill in all the paperwork your school's financial aid office requires. 
  3. Use Moodle to take the Work-study information session. You'll find the option under the money matters course. 
  4. After you complete the information session, wait for 48 hours. After 48-hours, you'll be able to access the Federal Work-Study application. 
  5. Log onto your E-forms to complete the application and attach your resume. 

How to find out if you qualify?

To be sure about whether or not you are eligible for federal work-study, make an appointment with your college's financial aid office and discuss this possibility with them. If they approve, then you can take advantage of the program when finding a job.

Keep in mind that the eligibility criteria are different depending on which school or university you attend so it's best to contact them first before applying for jobs. Make sure that they participate in Federal Work-Study otherwise, there will be no point in trying to get yourself a job.   

Is it possible to live off my federal work-study wages only?

Asking this question is very common among students who are in need of financial support. Yes, it is possible to live off the federal work-study wages only but you would have to work at least 30 hours a week. There are students who were able to live in that way until their final year of study when they had to find regular jobs.

The best thing about this program is that you can earn extra money while completing your studies and this wage will count towards the total income of the family in order for them to receive financial aid if they apply for a FAFSA form after graduation.

Because of these benefits, many universities take advantage of this resource by hiring students from different departments which gives students interesting opportunities when finding interesting part-time work during their studies.  

What if my first language is not English? Can I still apply for a federal work-study position?  

The federal work-study program needs people who would be able to understand and write in English. This is because the task you will apply for usually requires good command of the English language. So if your first language is not English, or you graduated from a high school that's primarily conducted in another language, then you might want to consider taking an ESL course before applying for these positions.

When can I take part in this program?  

You can start working in the program during your first semester of study. But this is not to say that you cannot get a job before entering college. You are advised to begin searching for an internship, or creating one for yourself two months before classes start. 

What if my GPA is low? 

If you have a GPA that's lower than what is required by your school, then you might want to first take an online course on how to improve your academic performance. Once you're more confident about your grades, then apply for the federal work-study program. 

Is it challenging to qualify for the work-study program? 

It might not be that tough if you fulfill the criteria. But colleges usually have a limited amount of funds supporting the work-study program. This means it is better if you apply as soon as the semester begins to take advantage of the first-come, first-serve basis. 

What happens after I get accepted into the work-study program? 

After you get accepted into the work-study program, you'll apply for positions that match your interest. The job application process would be the same as applying for other jobs. Once you meet the criteria for a certain job, you'll get chosen for an interview. If you clear the interview, you'll get the job. 

Will it affect my study process? 

No. You can work as many hours as your school allows and still maintain good grades. As long as you manage your time well, you will not have a problem with balancing work and school. But remember no matter how busy you are, do not forget to sleep at least 8 hours every day or more if possible. 

What about taxes on my salary?

How will that be deducted? According to the IRS, you are required to pay taxes once you get paid by an employer. It does not matter if your salary is $1 or $10,000 dollars. The point is that you get paid for your work. Remember that the money you receive from your employer is for your services and not a loan or a gift.

You can find out more about Federal Work-study jobs on the official government website of federal student aid.  

Is getting a job guaranteed after qualifying for the work-study program? 

Unfortunately, you are not guaranteed a job even after qualifying for the program. It is because often, the number of applicants exceeds the number of vacant positions. So, to secure a job, you must prepare an impressive resume. 

Also, you must practice your interview skills to exhibit professionalism. You can watch online videos to learn more information about this.

Bottom line

The federal work-study program is a great way for college students to engage in practical training while still studying. Many employers are looking for candidates who can speak and write well in English, especially if they are taking part-time jobs that require good communication skills.

If you don't meet the GPA requirement yet, then consider taking an online course on how to improve your academic performance before applying for this job.

Remember that this job will not affect your study process as long as you manage your time well. And finally, though not guaranteed, it is recommended that you start searching for a job two months before the school semester starts and apply immediately when the application period begins so you won't miss out on these Work-Study opportunities!