by Mel Beasley, CSB Marketing Assistant | photo credit: Dorothy Joseph photography
Federal work-study is a type of financial aid granted to qualifying college students that allows them to work part-time during the semester. Many departments at the University of North Carolina love opening work-study positions because it allows students the opportunity to gain relevant experience and they are flexible with individual course schedules. Work-study positions are especially valuable for eligible positions off UNCW’s campus as many nonprofit organizations can fulfill needs without dipping into their personal budgets since work-study wages are paid out by the government.
That are a lot of positives surrounding federal work-study awards: Flexible schedule, above average hourly wage, valuable work experience (usually in your field), and free, on-the-job training that you can use in other positions. There’s little reason for students at UNCW not to apply to federal work-study. So how do you apply?
You must meet some criteria to qualify for work-study.
The number one thing you absolutely must do to receive a federal work-study award is to fill out the FAFSA form. Other basic eligibility requirements for federal student aid include the following: You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen. You must have a valid social security number. You must have a high school diploma. You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student “in an eligible degree or certificate program at a college or university that is eligible for Title IV federal student aid” (edvisors.com). Additionally, students must demonstrate some level of financial need.
You must fill out the FAFSA in advance for the upcoming school year.
The annual FAFSA deadline comes well before each school year for when the work-study positions are awarded. Much of the financial aid funds are delegated out on a first-come-first-serve basis, so it’s important to get your application filled out as soon as you can. On average, the FAFSA deadline falls on June 30th, but students can refer to their individual colleges for specific dates or search deadlines per state by clicking here.
You will need to fill out the FAFSA for every year you need aid. Simply answer the required questions in the questionnaire at https://studentaid.ed.gov. By approximating question #12 under the Student Demographics tab, you will be asked, “Are you interested in being considered for work-study?” Simply click the pull-down arrow and select the option for “Yes.” If you don’t select yes on this question, you will not be considered for a work-study award and therefore will not be eligible for employment using work-study.
You must hang on to your award letter if you receive work-study.
If you receive a federal work-study award, you will receive an email from your university financial aid office that shows you the amount awarded. It’s important to hang on to this email because you will need to forward it or print it for the hiring manager so that the work-study position can be created if you are offered a position. You can look for work-study positions on your university’s student job board, like UNCW’s Handshake.
Keep in mind that the application process at any university is a competitive one, and professionalism goes a long way. Don’t assume that you can land any position simply for having a government award. Hiring managers are looking for serious candidates who can fulfill a genuine need, so make sure you update your resume and cover letter for each individual position you apply for and good luck!