Work-Study Eligibility: How to Determine and Apply

Are you wondering if you’re eligible for a work-study program? Work-study programs offer a fantastic opportunity for college students to earn money, gain valuable work experience, and contribute to their college campuses.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on work-study programs, from determining eligibility to applying for a work-study job.


The eligibility for the Federal Work-Study Program is typically communicated to students through their financial aid award letter. When colleges accept students into the program, they will indicate a work-study award allocation in the award letters. To qualify, students must file the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and demonstrate financial need.

Applying for Work-Study

To qualify for work-study, students must file their FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and demonstrate financial need. On the application, students must indicate that they are interested in being considered for work-study programs as part of their financial aid package.

The FAFSA® will calculate your Expected Family Contribution, which is the amount you and your family can be expected to pay for your college expenses. Your school will subtract your Expected Family Contribution from their Cost of Attendance to calculate your financial need.  From there, federal grants, loans, and work-study opportunities will be award to you.

Financial Aid Award Letter

Once your college has reviewed your FAFSA®, they will send you a Financial Aid Award Letter that outlines your financial aid offer. The award letter will include information about grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study.

If your college has deemed you eligible, your award letter will indicate how much your school is offering you in work-study funds. Work-study programs are subsidized by the federal government and not all colleges offer these programs to their students.

If you’re not sure if a college has a work-study program or not, it’s best to check with the financial aid office to be sure.

Your work is not done when your school accepts you into the work-study program, however. Now, you’ll have to learn how to be both a student and a working professional. Which means mastering the job application process.

Applying for Your Work-Study Job

For first-year students that are accepted to the work-study program, you will also need to apply for a job on your college campus. If you do not follow through on this second step, you will not receive the money your college allocated for you.

Most schools will have an online job listing page on their student web portals. If you are unsure where to find your school’s work-study job postings, contact your school’s financial aid office. 

The great thing to keep in mind is that this type of work can help you build skills and relationships throughout your college campus. As you continue on as a student at your college, this can help you navigate the college experience.

Work-Study vs Part-Time Jobs for Students

The reason work-study is a better idea than higher paying job opportunities is that there’s less competition, and the amount you make for the year will not affect your EFC the following school year.  We know, being a student is expensive and any little bit of money helps, but remember that your EFC is what will determine how much aid you get next year. The last thing you want is less aid than you got this year. 

Work-study as part of your student financial aid package can put more money in your pocket for school expenses and other incidentals that might come up throughout the school year. It can also be a way to help you gain work experience to put on your resume so that you have something to show for your time in college when graduation day comes.

Also check out: FAFSA® FAQs: Everything You Need to Know


Work-study programs offer an excellent opportunity for college students to earn money, develop essential skills, and contribute to their college communities.

By understanding the eligibility requirements, navigating the application process, and considering the long-term benefits, you can make the most of this valuable financial aid option.

Remember to seek guidance from your college’s financial aid office to ensure a successful work-study experience. Embrace work-study and enjoy a fruitful college journey.

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