Work-study programs offer students a chance to earn extra money.
Tuition, books, an apartment, food.
By the time students get through the long list of everything they need to get started on their college education, many find themselves short of cash. After exhausting scholarship options, students may find themselves in the basement of Strong Hall in the Office of Student Financial Aid.
"While we don't have enough money to fund everyone, we end up accommodating most people," said Stephanie Covington, assistant director for Student Financial Aid.
Students who come to the office seek loans, scholarship opportunities and other ways to earn money, she said. For many of those students one of the best opportunities lies in work-study programs.
"Work-study is a federally subsidized program that is designed to promote part-time employment so students have less debt," she said.
Students may not immediately see the extra benefits of working in a work-study job, since most yield a comparable wage to off-campus jobs, but the rewards pay off in terms of hours worked and when it comes to tax time, Covington said.
"The money a student earned from a previous year is exempted from the expected family contribution," she said.
The logistics can be a bit tricky without talking to a financial aid adviser but the equation works something like this:
Based on the student's family income, the federal government sets guidelines on how much money the family should be able to pay in terms of the student's college expenses. Expenses the family cannot cover come from another source such as loans, scholarships and student employment. By working in a work-study job, the income the student earns for each year worked is not calculated as part of the family income. Other jobs, outside the work-study program, are calculated into the family income for tax purposes
"The money earned is excluded from the next year (in taxes), making them eligible for more need-based aid," explained Brenda Maigaard, associate director of Student Financial Aid.
Students also get an added benefit by working for employers on campus, Maigaard said.
"Campus employers are very flexible," she said. "They understand that classes and study time have to come first. They understand when students need time off during finals."
Work-study is also a means for new students to build a support system, Maigaard said.
"They get to know the staff in an environment they feel comfortable in," she said. "And some of them get skills that are job-related. For some students who come here it's their first job."
Depending on their schedule and eligibility students may earn up to $2,800 each year that they participate in work-study programs. Jobs offered range from research positions to working in campus museums or in office positions.
Students must be enrolled in at least six hours of classes, complete Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards for Financial Aid, be on a degree-seeking track, and demonstrate financial need. .
Students who are interested in applying for a work-study job need to start by filling out an application for student financial aid. Forms are available through high school counselors, or through the Office of Student Financial Aid, 50 Strong Hall, Kansas University, Lawrence 66045. Forms also are available by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Once students fill out a form, it is reviewed by financial aid counselors at the universities of the student's choice. If a student is eligible for work-study and there is still enough funding for the jobs, students are notified through the mail.
Students who are not accepted because of lack of funding are encouraged to check back with the office, Covington said.
"A lot of times students choose to go to another school or decide not to accept work-study," she said. "Then, more funds open up."
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