Working and earning while attending college is almost a necessity for many students. With the sky rocketing costs of a college education, students and students’ families need to take advantage of every possible resource to pay for their education.

How Working Affects “Need Based” Aid

One of the least understood items in the calculation of “need based” aid is how income earned by the student affects the amount of potential aid awarded. So what is best? Are work-study opportunities or off campus non-work-study jobs the most beneficial?


  • Non-work study income adds to the family’s “Expected Family Contribution or EFC” to the tune of 20%. So for example, if a student earns $5,000 in this type of job, it will add $1,000 to the EFC, thus reducing the amount of “need based” aid available to the student.
  • On campus “work-study” does not need to be added to the EFC calculation, thus increasing the potential aid a student can receive. If a student needs the income, he or she should pursue and request, via the FAFSA, work-study opportunities. These opportunities will be offered as part of the award letters received from the colleges or universities. Read your award letters carefully. There are only so many work study opportunities so as soon as your student unpacks into his or her living quarters, the next stop should be at the work study opportunity desk on campus.

The other advantage of the work study opportunity is that you will possibly have time to study at work. In essence, you get paid to study. Your work study job might be answering the phone in the English department for four hours a day. The phone rings once per hour so you have the opportunity to study while getting paid. The job is not replacing the turf on the football field.


Other On Campus Job Opportunities

Visit the on campus career center where they can help you locate opportunities as well as help you prepare a resume that presents your skills and abilities. Also, check out the bulletin boards on campus where employers will post job opportunities. Tutors, lab assistants, athletic assistance or other on campus opportunities are posted here. There may be several locations on campus where these bulletin boards can be found. Also, find the universities’ on-line postings for job opportunities.


Off Campus Jobs

If you are unable to find on-campus opportunities, then search off campus. Some of these jobs might be waiting tables, retail sales associates, grocery store clerk, high school tutor, pet sitting, and the list goes on. Typically these types of jobs require little experience or education, and are usually flexible on the times you need to work, so that your schooling can be prioritized and accommodated. You can also check on-line like Craigslist or


Paid Internships

The best search to make is to try to find paid internships in the area of interest for your life’s work. These positions will allow you to determine whether or not it is a career that will make you happy in your life’s work. There is nothing worse than going to work and hating your job. Check with the departments in your field of study and with your professors. Also check out companies in your field of interest to see if there are internships available.


Other Items

Dress the part. Looking sloppy while going to a job interview will send a message that you are careless and non committed. Practice talking about why you would be good for the job before you go with your roommate. Have a nice clean copy of your resume and have it oriented with key words that match up with what the employer does.


Happy job hunting!

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