How to Apply for the Federal Work Study Program

by Dannelle F. Walker
Smiling young student working in library.

The Federal Work Study Program is a grant the United States Department of Education administers to help students subsidize the cost of a post-secondary education. To be eligible, students must demonstrate financial need. Students who qualify will be employed by the institution where they attend school; a federal, state or local public agency; or, a nonprofit organization or for-profit organization. In exchange, students are paid for their work, which students can use to offset college expenses.

Basic Information

To be eligible for a Federal Work Study grant, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. Students can complete the FAFSA online or in paper format. When applying for student aid, a student will need to input her social security number. She will also need to input her most recent tax returns and W-2 forms, if available, and her parents’ tax returns and W-2 forms, as well. Completing the FAFSA application takes an estimated 55 minutes, which includes the time a student spends reviewing the instructions, assembling the requested information, and then completing and reviewing the application.

Applying for Work Study

A specific item on the FAFSA states “The Federal Work-study Program provides jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses.” The FAFSA then asks applicants to select “yes” if they are interested in being considered for work-study, “no” if they are not, or “don’t know” if they do not know their interest. If you are interested, be sure to select “yes.” If you select “no,” you will not be considered. After you answer all questions and submit the application, the U.S. Department of Education will process the application. If you submitted the application online, the Dept. of Education will process the application in three to five days. If you submitted the application in paper format, the application will be processed in seven to 10 days. Applicants will then receive a Student Aid Report, which includes details as to the information the Dept. of Education considered. The SAR will also include the amount of money the Dept. of Education expects the family to contribute, as well as any financial aid the applicant is eligible to receive. If the applicant is selected to receive a work-study grant, the Student Aid Report will list it as a financial aid option.

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About the Author

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dannelle F. Walker is an education lawyer and policy maker. Her areas of expertise include teacher liability, educator ethics, and school operations. She holds a JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

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