Working During College: Federal Work-Study & Other Student Jobs

When the term “full-time student” is used, they aren’t kidding. With class time, homework, projects, and presentations being a student should take at least 40 hours of your week. As if this wasn’t overwhelming in itself, many students balance their academic schedule with part-time or even full-time jobs. 

Working during college sounds like it would take away from valuable time spent studying. However, research has shown that students who work 15-20 hours a week actually have higher GPAs than those who work no hours at all. 

What are the best job options for students?

The Federal Work-Study Program

This is a program that provides part-time employment opportunities for college and graduate students. These opportunities can be related to what you’re studying and can be on or off campus. They pay minimum wage by the hour, but it’s possible that you can earn more depending on the skillset required for the job.

It’s required by law that you are paid at least once a month. The number of hours you get will depend on your total Federal Work-Study award. Apply early to receive this award, as it is given away on a first come, first serve basis.  

How do you qualify? Most work study programs are awarded to you based on financial need. Most students will not be considered for work study without filling out the FAFSA.

In addition, you may need to go directly to the financial aid office and apply early for the program. Jobs are often snatched up quickly so go as early as possible! But don't panic if you miss your deadline. You can reapply every semester and you have other work options as well. 

Best Student Side Jobs

College towns will often have jobs available to students. This may not relate to your field of study, but it can help you earn a living regardless. Additionally, if you can score a job where you get tips, it’s possible that you can earn a lot more money than minimum wage.

You may also find on-campus jobs that fall outside of the federal work study program if you are unable to drive to a location off campus. I was once employed at our campus dining hall, and they worked around my class schedule and provided me with a decent amount of hours every week. 

Students can also go into business for themselves. Many students teach music lessons, provide tutoring services, babysit, or even launch their own cleaning or yard work businesses. Tap into your entrepreneurial and creative spirit to find some additional options that may work for you!

See this article for more ideas on jobs for college students.

You may also be interested in working for companies that provide tuition reimbursement.

Maintaining Work-School Balance

Although working part-time is often beneficial for students, working over 20-25 hours a week can be detrimental to your studies. Try to find a job that is flexible so you can make sure school can be your main focus. You are completing an education so that after you graduate you can achieve the career of your dreams.