Applying for work study can be a tricky process. Many incoming students don’t fully understand the difference between work study and on-campus work. Let’s clear up some common myths and dive right into the differences in work experiences for college.
Work study is a federal program where the government pays your college for you to work. You can apply for work study when you fill out your FAFSA. Once approved for work study, you’ll get an award that represents the maximum you can make for the quarter. After that it’s up to you to find a work study position. At EWU your employer is usually more willing to work with you and may help you create a flexible schedule to help ensure you use your full award. If you’re a work study student, you may have an advantage over non-work study students because the government incentivizes universities to hire work study students.
Work study jobs can range from teaching assistantships to jobs in campus dining locations. Once you’ve been approved for work study through FAFSA, you need to submit paperwork to EWU. After that you can find a great guide on how to apply to EWU jobs here. While working with any university you will be limited to 19 hours a week as a student and 40 hours a week while on break.
A note: I spoke with Student Employment and they explained that work study is a job and not an award. You’ll get paid for your hours as you go through them, not at the beginning of the quarter.
Work Study Myths
The myth: works study jobs let you study and get paid for it. That would be nice if it was true, but it’s not. While some jobs might have lag times where you can work on homework you still have a job with real responsibilities.
The myth: work study is guaranteed money. Nope. Work study does not guarantee you a position, and there are more students approved for work study than there are positions. Keep your resume strong and prepare for your interview like you would for any job.
On-campus (non-work study) work includes work study jobs and many more. On-campus work is limited to 19 hours a week as a student and 40 hours a week on breaks. As with work study, EWU employers are often more willing to work around test dates or busy class days than an off-campus employer is.
Off-campus work can include any work off-campus! I have known students who worked in pizza delivery, grocery outlets, and fast food restaurants. Anyone in and out of the college can apply, which can make jobs more competitive than on-campus work. EWU officially recommends that students work no more than 20 hours a week when enrolled as a full time student (but you can work over 20 hours off-campus). While employers are often willing to work around a schedule, your hours will likely not be as flexible off campus as they would be on campus. You might have a test or project day that your boss isn’t willing to let you take off.
Okay, what should I choose?
When looking at college work, apply to positions that will help your resume later. Experience as a Geology TA would be fantastic for geology students, and web design work would be excellent for design students. If those aren’t available or if your resume needs a little work, finding work with dining services is always a good option. If you can afford to work fewer than 20 hours a week, do so. While you might not have as much money in the short term, your grades, social life, and college experience will pay off in many ways.