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Understanding Work Study

Work Study is a need-based financial aid program that assists students by providing an opportunity to work part-time while going to school. Under the program, the employer pays a percentage of the student’s wages, and the remainder is subsidized by federal or state funds. Work study awards are not included in your financial aid award when calculating the owing balance on your university bill, since employment is not guaranteed, hours worked and wage rates will vary, and pay checks are paid directly to the student and spent at their discretion.

Two types of Work Study

1: Federal Work Study

The Federal Work Study program provides on-campus jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to each student’s course of study. On-campus employment requires the student to be at least 18 years of age.

The Federal Work Study Program provides jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to each student’s course of study.

Eligibility is determined by the Federal Government and is based on financial need.

To be considered for Work Study you must first submit a FAFSA form (remember to include PLU’s school code 003785). Upon receiving your FAFSA information from the federal government, PLU will compile an award letter. If you are awarded Federal Work Study, then you will be given additional information regarding Work Study opportunities.

You’ll earn at least the current state minimum wage (currently $11.00/hr), but the amount could be higher depending on the type of work you do and the skills required. Your total Federal Work Study award depends on your level of need and the number of hours available to work at the on campus employers at which you are applying for employment. Commissions or fees must not be paid to Federal Work Study students. The average amount earned in the work study program in 2015-16 was $2,343, while the largest amount earned was $8,575.

2: State Work Study

In addition to the Federal Work Study program, Washington also provides a Work Study program in which students can work for an off campus employer part-time while going to school.

The State Work Study program helps Washington students with financial need to earn money for college while gaining work experience in jobs related to their academic and career goals. Students at PLU are hired by off campus employers who are then reimbursed 30% – 60% of the student wages (depending on the type of employer) by the state work study program funds.

In order to obtain State Work Study you must:

  • Be a Washington state resident.
  • Have state work study as part of your aid package. Students securing on-campus employment may have their State Work Study award converted to the on-campus federal work study program.
  • State work study awarded for fall or spring semester requires at least half-time enrollment and student must maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Work a maximum of 19 hours per week while enrolled at least half time.  Students may work up to 40 hours per week during the summer term when enrolled less than half time. To be eligible to work 40 hours per week, students must be registered for the following fall semester.
  • Work with your employer to track your earnings so that they do not exceed the amount you have been awarded.

To be considered for Work Study you must first submit a FAFSA (remember to include PLU’s school code 003785). Upon receiving your FAFSA information from the federal government, PLU will compile a financial aid award. If you are awarded Work Study then complete the following:

  • Find a job that interests you within the State Work Study listing.
  • Download a State Work Study Referral/Agreement Form from the Office of Student Employment website.
  • Complete STEP1a with the Office of Student Financial Services; Completed STEP1b with your student information.
  • Apply for the job! Counselors at Student Employment and Career Connections will work with you if you have questions about applications, cover letters, and resumes.  To schedule an appointment with Student Employment or Career Connections, please call 253-535-7459.
  • Bring your referral with you to the State Work Study employer and have them complete STEP2, Employer Information, and STEP3, Award Request.
  • Return the Referral to the Student Employment Center in Ramstad. This will complete the processing of your application, including adjusting award amounts to fit with your employer’s request, if necessary.
  • Make sure you and your employer return your State Work Study Time sheet at the end of every month and that all the information is current and accurate. Return time sheets to the Student Employment Center.
  • Continue to work with your employer to track your earnings so that they do not exceed the amount you have been awarded.

Your earning potential is dictated by the 19 hours per week limit while enrolled in school, the hourly wage paid by your employer and the amount of your eligibility, based on your FAFSA information. Students may work up to 40 hours per week during periods of non-enrollment or when enrolled less than half time. In 2015-16, students averaged $4,959 in earnings, with the highest amount earned at $14,396 for the year (including full-time summer employment), $8,870 for fall & spring semesters. Benefits of participation in the State work study program beyond a pay check include:

  • Offer positions that typically provide higher compensation than on-campus employment.
  • Offer positions that typically provide more “real world” work opportunities that test academic learning and help confirm future career interest.
  • Offer the potential for making a bigger impact in terms of post-graduation resume’ and reference strength/competitiveness.
  • Offer a wider variety of employers, industries, and job duties within the local communities.
  • Offer greater potential for post-graduation employment with the same employer.