What Is Work-Study And How Does it Work?

Work-Study job

What Is Work-Study And How Does it Work?

Published November 22, 2017 | Last Updated October 19th, 2023 at 02:05 pm

Work-Study job

If your student has looked into the variety of college funding options available, work-study has probably come up.

Understanding what work-study is and how it works is an important part of knowing if this is a good option for your child.

What Is Work-Study and How Does One Qualify?

Work-study is a way for students to earn money to pay for school through a various assortment of jobs.

These jobs can be either off or on campus.

Students qualify for work-study through the FAFSA. It’s not simply an on-campus job, it’s a specific type of work that is considered financial aid.

You must check the box on FAFSA to be considered for work-study! 

From the government FAFSA website: “The Federal Workstudy Program provides jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. Select Yes if you are interested in being considered for workstudy.”

A student can still qualify for a work-study even if they don’t check the work-study box on the FAFSA, but the process will be delayed. As a result, the school may run out of money before your student applies for a work-study job.

Being eligible for work-study does not guarantee that your student will get a work-study job. They must apply and win the job.

How Does Work-Study Work?

Once a student has been approved for work-study, they need to apply for the work-study jobs available on campus. Each school has their own process and the number of jobs available will vary from institution to institution.

Once a work-study job is secured, the student must work the required hours to be paid. The hours per week will be limited based on the amount of work-study awarded. The money will be paid directly to the student, and is subject to income tax.

What Are the Benefits of Work-Study?

The benefits of work-study are that they can fill in for student loans, allowing a student to have less debt. Also, the income is considered financial aid, and therefore the money doesn’t count against the student’s ability to get future financial aid.

While parents may be concerned about a student being distracted from school, work-study programs are often very flexible and take student schedules and exams into account.

Some students prefer to forgo work-study so that they can work other jobs during school. This can allow them to work more hours and earn more money.

However, many students find that outside jobs are less understanding about school schedules. Sometimes getting to a job off-campus can be a challenge, if your child doesn’t have a car.

Depending on the circumstances, they may find a work-study to be the perfect fit.


Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

Teen Jobs May Come with a Bonus: Scholarships

FAFSA Application Ultimate Guide: How to Apply, Steps, Tips, FAQs

Career Services and Finding Your First Post-College Job




In this article:

Upcoming Events

Similar Articles for You

The Best Colleges for Merit Aid

College Financial Aid Costs and Stats

The Best Colleges for Merit Aid

For many families ineligible for need-based financial aid, figuring out whether a college is affordable means researching whether it offers...

Dear Roadie: Should I Switch to a College Job to Get Tuition Discounts for My Kids?


Dear Roadie: Should I Switch to a College Job to Get Tuition Discounts for My Kids?

Dear Roadie, I’m a 41-year-old mom with twin 17-year-old sons. My husband and I are concerned about their college expenses....

Colleges Offering Merit Aid to 95%+ of Students Without Need

College Financial Aid Costs and Stats

Colleges Offering Merit Aid to 95%+ of Students Without Need

If you’re a family that won’t qualify for need-based aid, it’s time to start looking for merit scholarships. What Are...

Tools & Services Recommended for You

There may come a time when you realize you can’t do it all alone. Use any of the many tools in our toolbox to assist you on the road to college.

Become a Member

At Road2College you’ll find everything you need to make the admissions and paying for college process less stressful and more transparent.


Explore R2C Insights™ — your source for finding affordable colleges and merit scholarships.


Get coaching on admissions and college financing.


Join Road2College where parents and experts work together to inform and inspire college-bound families.