Can I Participate In a Work-Study Program While Getting an Online Degree?

Work StudyIn an era of fast-rising tuition prices and a nationwide desire to reign in college debt, many distance educations students simply want to know if they can participate in the work-study program while getting an online degree. The answer to this is decidedly “maybe,” with mixed results based on where students are studying, how many classes they’re taking online, and how close they are to that school’s physical location. The nature of the Federal Work-Study Program means that some students might be eligible for subsidized, part-time employment on campus, while others will unfortunately miss out on this opportunity to offset their college expenses and minimize their amount of post-graduation indebtedness.

Federal Work-Study: What Considerations Must Be Made?

The Work-Study program was designed to meet two big goals at America’s colleges and universities: Provide students with a somewhat guaranteed source of part-time income while they study for their courses, and offset the high cost of doing business at today’s institutions of higher education. It accomplishes these goals in a unique way. The program actually provides full or partial funding to the school in order for that school to create open, part-time positions for students.

With the combination of a small amount of school funding and the government work-study funding, students are paid an hourly wage or weekly stipend for services rendered. Due to the unique nature of this program, online education students might find that they’re actually left out of the mix when it comes to participating in Federal Work-Study.

Only Local Students Stand to Benefit from Work-Study Jobs

Typically, students who live close to a university that offers distance education courses can still participate in work-study employment. Students who take a mix of local, on-campus classes, and a few distance education classes, can also participate in the program in most cases. Since all of the jobs offered through the program are typically offered on-campus, in areas like the school gym, the library, or the admissions office, proximity to the campus really matters.

While work-study employment is still within reach for those who are simply taking online classes offered by a local campus, it’s often not an option for students who attend national distance education schools or for-profit institutions. These schools simply are too far away for students to realistically seek an on-campus job, or they employ a smaller staff that doesn’t need the assistance of government subsidized student workers.

Inquire About Work-Study Employment Prior to Acceptance of Admission

Students who are serious about doing everything they can to minimize their student loan debt and earn a steady income while studying should check with a school’s financial aid office in advance of enrollment regarding this program. If work-study isn’t available, and its lack of availability is a deal-breaker, it’s probably a good idea to look into online courses offered by a closer, more local university instead. Of course, students who aren’t offered work-study positions could always seek off-campus, part-time employment. It’s worth noting, however, that these positions are focused more on work than studying, and might put students in a position where they simply don’t have the time needed to get their work done and keep their studying on schedule.

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Work-Study is A Great Program Where it’s Offered

The Federal Work-Study program is one of the best financial aid programs offered at the federal level, since it gives students the chance to gain work experience, earn an income for doing so, and still prioritize their studies. For those students who value participating in the work-study program while getting an online degree, it’s important to choose a school that’s local, has a campus of its own, and actively participates in this federal aid offering.