Work Study… How Does it Work? - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Financial Aid
October 6, 2021

Work Study… How Does it Work?

While in college, it is important to make sure you work enough to supply yourself adequate funds to get you through the semester but not work too much to distract you from your school work. The balance can be difficult to find, especially when you want to prove yourself to be reliable, consistent and helpful to your employer. If this is your plight at this moment, I would like to introduce you to the concept of work study.

Like many high school and college students, I found myself working in the food industry by age 16. These jobs can be wonderful to start you off with some decent paychecks and to build for yourself some kind of work experience. Nonetheless, when you start at the bottom rung in the food industry, there can be a lot of pressures. Managers want you to work more than you should while in school, the jobs you’re given can be quite laborsome, and it seems like you are typically handed the less desirable tasks during your shift.

In the end, working in the food industry or at any other place for minimum wage gives you some extra money to live on. But what if I told you there was another way to earn money while also earning some extra benefits along the way?

Work Study Works

A work study operates similarly to a job in that students will attend their scheduled work hours and get paid while doing so. The first benefit to a work study however is the kind of jobs you can apply for. Often times, if your college has a work study option, they will supply you with job opportunities directly on campus. This means that you have the opportunity to work a short distance from where you live on campus and attend classes. Not only will the commute to work be easier, work studies provide you the opportunity to acquire jobs that will help you gain real life experience that could build up your resume for the future.

With the numerous jobs available, one may find an office directly on campus that even complements the very major that they are studying under. These work study opportunities can really prepare you well for your future career and provide work experience that will give you a leg up on a job application in the future.

Working while in college can be difficult because the more you earn, the more it could impact your financial aid. This concern is a particularly frustrating when trying to pay off college while still in college. Because a work study operates as a type of federal aid, the money earned through a work study does not affect your financial aid. In addition to this, your earnings through work study is exempt from some of the additional forms of taxation that other jobs would take out of your earnings.

When students work around campus they are often treated well and can receive certain benefits like a normal employee. Luncheons, trainings and employee get togethers are always fun to attend and tend to attract surplus food!

Work Study Is a Job

While in high school, the jobs I worked filled me with a bit of pressure to give my employer as much time as I could to be there. The truth is, as college students, time can be limited, schedules can be unpredictable, and homework sometimes needs to come first above anything. Another aspect of work study is the flexibility of your employer. While you still need to strive to be a good employee, under work study, your employer acknowledges that you are a college student who needs to prioritize your school work, even if that means you need to call off last minute. Under work study, your boss also expects your time commitment to be limited, as you have classes and homework assignments to complete.

Work Study Is Financial Aid+

Although a work study is considered a type of financial aid, you are still given it through a pay check. This means that you can use the money toward whatever you would like or need to spend it on. Need some extra money to go toward tuition? Need to purchase some books? Need to pay off credit card bills or insurance? You got it!

Like a normal job, a work study provides consistent work hours and a weekly to bi-weekly paycheck. Unlike a normal job, a work study is supplied through the government as a sort of financial aid. This means you will need to apply to see if you are eligible for work study. Every year, students are asked to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FASFA). FASFA is a fairly quick and easy form that every college student should fill out to see if they are eligible for some sort of federal aid in college. While filling out this application may provide you with some student aid, this is also the portal for which you can apply for a student work study. In order to apply for a work study, you must be qualified to work in the US and enrolled as a full-time or part-time student at a college that has work study options.

To put it simply, a work study is an easily accessible job that students can work and gain valuable experience toward their future career. Work studies come alongside the student to cultivate an environment that provides flexibility in work hours and paychecks that will not negatively impact one’s financial aid eligibility. Colleges and universities understand that students are vigorously working towards the completion of their degree while also trying to maintain a level of financial security.

The benefits of work study programs help students and colleges that often have more work to do than staff to do it. Work study is a great way to help pay for college and gain valuable professional experience. Learn more by talking to your Financial Aid office. Geneva College has more information about work study on its website:

-Abby Forton ‘22

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