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5 Important Facts About the Federal Work Study Program

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Federal Work Study Program

  • FAFSA Is Required For Your Work-Study Application
  • Employment Choices Are Laid Out For You
  • Employment Must Relate To Your Course of Study
  • Wages Are Subject To Taxation If You Work Less Than Full-Time
  • There Are Limitations On Work-Study Earnings

Have you heard about federal work study program and yet don’t know what the most important facts are about it? If you have, you’re not alone: students from all over the country are wondering whether the time spent in the work-study program is worth it, according to Forbes. While it can be beneficial for most students, there are a few things to keep in mind, so let’s talk about it.

1. FAFSA Is Required For Your Work-Study Application

As with many federal programs that are associated with financial aid at the university level, there is a requirement to show need in order to qualify for the work-study program. Each student interested in the program must fill out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The application will determine whether or not you are eligible for federal financial aid, including work-study programs. It is important to note here that if you are awarded a federal work-study placement, it does not automatically guarantee you employment. Your school will award employment to you, and as it’s usually on a first-come, first-served basis, you would do well to inquire about work-study as early as possible.

2. Employment Choices Are Laid Out For You

An important fact to note about work-study is that in most cases, employment choices will be laid out for you. That’s because schools have their own partnerships in this federal program. You may be offered the chance to work on or off-campus; however, the program will nearly always require civic engagement and rarely include private and for-profit companies or businesses. Because the program is at the federal level, most jobs will require you to work for a public government agency, a nonprofit, a charity, or community services.

3. Employment Must Relate To Your Course of Study

One fact to keep in mind as you apply for federal work-study is to remember that should you be accepted into the program, you will be required to find employment that correlates to your course of study. This is to ensure that you are learning while on the job; it also serves to provide that field with a little extra help from passionate students. There may be times when a job in your field is unavailable; your school will then help you find suitable employment that corresponds as closely to your field of study as possible.

4. Wages Are Subject To Taxation If You Work Less Than Full-Time

You might think that because you are part of a federal work-study program that you will be exempt from paying taxes on your wages. This is only true if you work more than half-time at your job. If you study full-time and pick up half-time or part-time hours at your place of employment, your wages are counted towards federal and state income tax. However, the money you make from federal work-study will not hinder your chances of continuing to obtain student aid in coming years, even though it’s counted on your FAFSA. The earnings are reported separately on the application and won’t influence your aid amount.

5. There Are Limitations On Work-Study Earnings

There are limitations on work-study earnings, which can be determined by when you apply for the program and the level of your financial need. Because all work-study programs require that students be paid the federal minimum wage, you may find that you may need to work more or less to earn the amount awarded to you through the program.

Work-study is a great way for students to help pay for college, but it can be difficult to suss out what’s important to remember about the program. For students who need the program in order to go to college, the need to understand the program inside and out is critical to their success. With these five important facts about the federal work-study program, a student can move into applying for the program with the confidence that they understand how the program will help them in their goals.