Work Study 101

At Thrive, we field a lot questions about what work-study is, how to get it,  how it works, and where the money you earn goes. To clear things up, we made this quick cheat-sheet to help you understand the ins and outs of the program.

What is Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study is awarded via the financial aid package to help provide part-time jobs, on or near campus, for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. Work-Study allows students to earn money, assisting with education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.

  • It’s important to note that because work-study utilizes federal funds, it is only available to domestic Undergraduate, Graduate, CPS and Law students enrolled in class full-time.  International students do not qualify for federal funding, thus are not awarded Federal Work-Study. If you have questions about working on-campus while on student-visa, please visit the Office of Global Services (OGS) website or contact the Office of Student Employment, Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships.

Not every student who applies for it will be awarded work-study because of the limited funds available. For the best chance of receiving a work-study award, make sure to: 

  • Submit your FAFSA by the priority deadline
  • Check off that you would like to be considered for work-study
  • Make sure all of the information on your FAFSA is correct the first time you submit

If you weren’t awarded work-study in your initial financial aid package, it’s not the end of the road. First, check out the Office of Student Employment, Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships website for jobs on-campus that are department-funded or jobs off-campus that have been vetted by the office. Your other option is to reach out to your financial aid counselor regarding your work-study eligibility. 

The Benefits of Work-Study and On-Campus Employment

With all its great benefits, it’s no surprise that work-study positions tend to be in high demand among students. These jobs will likely be located on campus, which is not only convenient but also helps students get involved in their community in a new way. University employers also tend to be more accommodating to student schedules than outside employers would be since they run on the same calendar. Finally, some of these positions involve proctoring, which means you might even be able to get away with doing homework while on the job!

As with any job, with more financial independence comes more control over your life. You can set your goals, create plans to achieve them, and actually put money towards each of them. A job that is outside your field of study can also help you meet new students or gain skills you wouldn’t have learned in class.

Once You Have It

A common misconception is that the money you earn through work-study is directly applied to your tuition bill. What actually happens is that you are paid on a weekly basis for hours worked the prior week. How you choose to spend this money is up to you, but we definitely recommend first paying for things like rent, food and your tuition bill.

It’s important to remember that the amount indicated on your award letter reflects the maximum you may earn for that particular semester.  Once you have earned your allotted award, you must stop working immediately. In order to figure out how many hours you can work at a given work-study job, Northeastern’s Office of Student Employment, Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships has created a handy calculator on their website. You can also simply divide your total award amount by the hourly wage and the amount of weeks you want to work in the semester.  

If you think you may max out your total award amount before the end of the semester, reach out to your Financial Aid Counselor to see if there’s anything that can be done to increase your award. Another option would be to talk to the department in charge of your work-study position and they might be able to pay you under the department budget.

Resources

The Office of Student Employment, Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships

Utilize the Website: search for on and off-campus positions, apply to those jobs, log your hours worked, check status of paycheck, etc.

  • MyNEU > Services & Links > Careers > Campus Employment & Work-Study

They are available to help you throughout your entire employment process, including:

  • Searching for jobs
  • Ways to follow up with potential employers
  • Interviewing
  • Having issues at work
  • Setting up direct deposit
  • Completing required documents, including the Form I-9 (must be completed by the first day of work)
  • Employment etiquette basics
  • Accessing your W-2 form for tax purposes

The Center for Financial Independence

If you need some help figuring out your budget once you have a job, make sure to book a free one-on-one appointment with one of our Personal Finance Advisors.

Student Financial Services

If you have questions about your work study eligibility or your FAFSA, reach out to your financial aid counselor.