How College Financial Aid Works

Federal Work-Study Jobs

If you want to earn some money for school while you're in school, a job funded by the Federal Work-Study Program is another financial aid option. Depending on the level of need demonstrated in your FAFSA, a Work-Study job can be an excellent way to earn thousands of dollars a year toward tuition.

With a Federal Work-Study job, you're paid directly by your school, but the government reimburses the school for your paycheck. Federal Work-Study jobs must pay minimum wage, but often pay more. They can be hourly or salaried positions, but must deliver a paycheck at least once a month. Total earnings cannot exceed the total amount of the student's Federal Work-Study award [source: Federal Student Aid].

The Federal Work-Study program encourages students to find employment that's related to their field of study. Schools reserve a certain amount of on-campus jobs for work-study students, everything from library assistants to admissions office representatives, dining hall workers and landscape teams.

Schools also maintain a list of off-campus positions that qualify for work-study funds. These are primarily with nonprofits, government agencies and other institutions dedicated to the "public good" [source: Federal Student Aid].

One of the benefits of a work-study job is that your employer (the school or off-campus organization) knows that your education is your top priority and will work around your class schedule. The average work-study schedule is between 10 and 15 hours a week [source: eCampusTours].

Of course, options abound if you want to earn money for school before you graduate from high school. Let's discuss scholarships on the next page.