Is Work Study Worth It?

When completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll encounter a crucial question:

“Are you interested in being considered for work-study?” Responding “yes”, “no”, or “unsure” is an option. We always advise students to answer “yes” to this question to ensure they’re considered for federal work-study.

Participating in work-study isn’t obligatory, but it provides students with the option.

Once you’ve completed the FAFSA and see work-study included in your financial aid award letter, you’ll need to weigh if it’s right for you. Benefits of work-study include:

Benefits of work-study

Financial Assistance

Work-study offers students the opportunity to find part-time jobs, usually on campus, and earn money to support their education. These jobs typically pay at least minimum wage and can contribute towards tuition, room, board, and other expenses.

Financial Aid Exemption

Work-study earnings don’t count against you when applying for financial aid through the FAFSA each year. While other jobs’ earnings are considered as earned income, work-study wages are exempt, making it a favorable option for students seeking financial aid.

Also See How to Write a Statement of Financial Need: A Step-by-Step Guide

Work experience

Gaining work experience is another significant advantage of work-study programs. Whether you’re involved in data entry at the library, working in retail at the campus store, or handling office tasks in an academic department, you’re accumulating valuable work experience that can enhance your resume.

For some students, work-study positions extend beyond basic tasks to more specialized roles such as tutoring, research assistance, or managing social media platforms. These positions provide opportunities to develop additional skills, which can prove advantageous when pursuing future employment opportunities and internships.

Balancing Work and School

Balancing work and school commitments is made easier with many work-study positions being available on campus. This proximity ensures accessibility and eliminates the need for a lengthy commute to your job.

Additionally, on-campus jobs typically offer more flexibility from employers when it comes to accommodating your academic schedule. Whether you need extra time to study for exams, attend club meetings, or fulfill other obligations, your work-study supervisor is more likely to be understanding and accommodating. This flexibility can be a significant advantage compared to off-campus employment options.

How much can you earn through work study?

When weighing the decision to pursue work study, it’s crucial to consider your potential earnings. Typically, students are compensated close to minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 nationally unless your state mandates a higher minimum wage.

Working around 5-10 hours per week, your earnings may suffice for covering daily expenses or discretionary spending. However, it’s important to recognize that while work study can provide valuable income, it’s unlikely to significantly offset your tuition expenses on its own.

While work study may not fully fund your education, it still offers numerous benefits and can complement other forms of financial aid to ease your financial burden.

Also Read How to Write a Financial Aid Appeal Letter 2024 (With Example)

Is a work study job manageable with your schedule?

Prioritizing your academic success is paramount when considering a work study job. While the extra income can be beneficial, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your studies.

If you find that a work study job is impeding your academic performance or causing undue stress, it may be wise to reassess your commitments. Remember, your primary goal in college is to excel academically, and it’s essential to maintain a healthy balance between work and study.

Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your academic advisor if you’re unsure about managing your workload effectively. They can offer valuable insights and help you make informed decisions about your commitments.

Work Study vs. Part-Time Jobs: Which is Right for You?

When it comes to financing your education through work, students have two primary options: work study or part-time jobs. Each comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so let’s explore them to help you make an informed decision:

Part-Time Job Benefits:

  1. Flexibility: Part-time jobs offer students the freedom to choose from a wide range of opportunities, including remote and off-campus positions.
  2. Higher Pay Potential: Depending on your skills and experience, part-time jobs may offer higher pay rates than work study positions, especially for roles requiring specialized skills like sales or programming.
  3. Exit Opportunities: While work study jobs focus on supporting students, part-time roles with external companies or organizations could potentially lead to full-time job offers or internship opportunities.

Part-Time Job Downsides:

  1. Impact on Financial Aid: Unlike work study earnings, income from a part-time job may affect your eligibility for need-based financial aid, potentially reducing the amount of aid you receive.
  2. Lack of Academic Balance: Unlike work study roles, which prioritize student obligations, external part-time jobs may not be as accommodating with academic commitments, potentially leading to a lack of balance between work and studies.

Are Work Study Jobs Worth It?

In our opinion, yes, work study jobs are definitely worth considering. They provide a balanced mix of financial benefits, valuable experience, and flexibility to manage your academic commitments effectively.

However, there are a few scenarios where work study jobs may not be the best option. These include if you intend to solely rely on a job to fund your education or if you find it challenging to juggle work responsibilities with your academic workload.


Work study jobs offer students a valuable opportunity to earn money, gain experience, and maintain a healthy balance between work and academics. While they may not fully cover tuition costs, they provide additional financial support and valuable skills for the future. Ultimately, whether a work study job is worth it depends on individual circumstances and priorities, but it’s certainly a beneficial option for many students.