Work study is a unique form of financial aid that doesn’t act like other the other types of aid that might see on your Financial Aid Award Notice. Questions about work study are one of the most common ones that students contact the Financial Aid office about, so we took some of the most common work study questions and provided answers right here!
So what is work study?
Federal Work Study is a federally funded form of self-help aid that allows students to earn money for school by working part-time jobs.
How is work study different than other aid?
While your grants, scholarships, and loans will credit your account balance and pay your bill, work study will not. You have to earn your work study funds during the school year by working in a job that can utilize your work study funds (on-campus & off-campus non profits typically). It is paid to you via bi-weekly paychecks similar to most other jobs.
What are the advantages of work study?
Having work study provides some notable positives for students who utilize it. The biggest is that it opens up a large pool of employers who would not otherwise be able to hire you. These are mostly on-campus departments who typically have the most flexible hours and are near where students live. The other positive is that the funds you earn through work study do not count as income when you file your FAFSA, which can help keep your expected family contribution (EFC) low.
How do I use my work study?
You will need to find a job that can utilize work study. These can either be on-campus or off-campus at non-profits that have work study agreements with Purdue. You then need to provide your employer with a Payroll Authorization Form (PAF). You can print one from your myPurdue portal, but only one. If you have more than one work study job or need another one for some reason you’ll need to stop by the Financial Aid office in Schleman Hall to have another printed for you.
How do I find work study jobs?
Both the Division of Financial Aid and Student Life host job posting boards for Purdue students. You can use these boards to find jobs on and around campus. Keep in mind that not all off-campus employers can use your work study funds. You can still work off-campus, but the money you earn won’t be from your work study fund.
Can anybody get work study?
No, Federal Work Study is for students who demonstrate a high level of financial need as determined by the results from the FAFSA. If you did not receive work study and would like it, you can contact the Division of Financial Aid and ask to be put on a wait list.
How do I receive my work study funds?
Even though work study is a form of financial aid, you have to earn it by working. After finding a job and working there, you will be paid bi-weekly depending on how many hours you work and what your wage is.
Do all work study jobs pay the same?
No, the hourly wage can be very different from one job to the next depending on the level of skill required and many other factors. It is worth searching available jobs to find one that pays well while also being a good fit in terms of duties, flexibility and location.
Do I need work study to find a job?
No, but work study makes it much easier to find a job around campus. Many academic departments and off-campus employers will only hire work study eligible students. Having work study opens up a pool of employers who might not be available otherwise.
What if I don’t plan on working right away?
You should still accept your work study if you think you might want it. Students who do not accept their work study risk having it cancelled so that it can be distributed to students who requested to be on the work study wait list.
Can I use work study to pay my tuition?
Sort of. Your tuition bill for the semester is due on the first day of class, you cannot start utilizing your work study funds until the semester starts. This means you won’t get paid until after the tuition bill is due. Work study is typically a good way to give students money for pay as you go expenses like rent, food, or other miscellaneous costs but it isn’t great at paying tuition. The best way to apply your work study earnings toward tuition is if you save it in your own account and use it to pay the next semester’s tuition.
What if I run out of work study?
Depending on your situation, you may have a couple of options. You may be able to talk with your supervisor and see if your employer can pay you from their normal funds. If not, you can contact the Financial Aid office and see what options you might have including adjusting your budget.
Have questions that didn’t get answered? Be sure to comment and we’ll let you know the answer!