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What Happens If You Accept Work Study But Don't Get a Job?

Finding a job can be difficult, even it you qualify for a work study. This article breaks down some options you may have if you can't find a work study position.

The federal work-study program is a form of financial aid that can help you pay for college. With work-study, you'll find a part-time job, typically on-campus but sometimes off-campus, which pays you an income that you can use to cover educational and living expenses.

Qualifying for the program doesn't guarantee employment, though, and it's your responsibility to find an eligible job. But what happens if you accept work-study but don't get a job? Here's what you need to know.

What Is work-study?

The federal work-study program is designed to help provide part-time jobs to undergraduate, graduate and professional college students while they're in school. 

Jobs include on-campus jobs or off-campus jobs that are in the public interest. In some cases, colleges and universities have agreements with private employers to allow you to find jobs that are relevant to your course of study. 

The wage can vary depending on a few factors, including:

  • When you apply
  • Your level of financial need
  • Your school's funding level
  • The type of work
  • Skills required for the position

However, you can't earn more than the total work-study award found in your financial aid award letter. So you may be limited to a certain number of hours, which may not be an issue you run into with another job outside of the program.

What Happens if You Accept work-study But Don't Get a Job?

As previously mentioned, it's your responsibility to find a work-study job once you've accepted your award. While some schools may go the extra mile to match students with jobs, that's not always the case.

It's important to note that unlike a grant or student loan, you don't receive your work-study program funds up front. Instead, your school will pay you as you work, at least monthly.

This means that if you accept work-study aid but don't get a job in the program, you won't receive the money. Here are some steps you can take if you're having trouble finding a work-study job.

1. Speak With Your Financial Aid Office

If you're not sure where to look for work-study jobs or they're simply hard to find, consider checking with your financial aid office. Someone who works at the office may be able to help you find out where you can look to find eligible jobs. 

If there are no job opportunities that fit your skills or experience, they may be able to help you research some alternatives.

2. Get a Part-Time Job On-Campus

Some colleges and universities don't require all student workers to be in the work-study program. Check your school's job board, either online or at the designated place on campus, for jobs that you might be interested in and qualified for. 

If you're a graduate student, you may even consider checking with your program for assistantships, fellowships and other employment options that aren't available to undergraduate students.

3. Look for a Job Off-Campus

If you're able to get transportation for a job off-campus, it can open up a lot more opportunities that may not be available in the work-study program in the first place. You may also be able to access jobs with higher wages and fewer restrictions than the ones offered through the program.

Use online job boards like IndeedMonster and Ziprecruiter to find postings in your area. You can narrow your search using keywords and filters to find the right fit for you.

4. Consider Other Forms of Financial Aid

Grants and scholarships may also be available to you, even if you missed the deadline for some of them. Check with your school to see which scholarships and grants are available and whether you're eligible. 

You may also search opportunities on websites like Scholarships.com and Fastweb, which maintain databases of millions of scholarships and grants provided by private organizations.

If the term is starting soon or already underway, you may have missed some deadlines. But there may still be ways to get aid that you generally don't have to work for or pay back.

5. Consider Student Loans

In an ideal world, college students would be able to afford school without the help of debt. But if you've exhausted all of your other options, they can be a lifesaver. Start with federal student loans, but if you've reached your allotment of federal loans, you may need to turn to a private lender for financing.

With Juno, you can get some leverage because we group you with other college students and negotiate with lenders for lower interest rates, discounts and rewards. This can mean lower interest rates, which can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars as you pay off your debt after graduation.

If you're new to credit, you may need a creditworthy cosigner to apply with you, but there's no credit check or commitment just to sign up and try it out.

Take your time to consider all of your financing options before you pick the right one for you.

The Bottom Line

The federal work-study program is just one of many ways to get help paying for college. Unfortunately, getting an offer from the program and accepting it doesn't guarantee that you'll actually get a work-study job.

If you're having trouble finding a federal work-study job, ask for help from your financial aid office. If they can't help you because there are no jobs available that you qualify for, you may need to turn to other sources of financial aid and job options.

Start with scholarships and grants, which typically don't need to be paid back, then look at other job opportunities outside of the work-study program, both on- and off-campus.

If you've done all that and you still need help paying for tuition and other educational expenses, consider taking out student loans to bridge the gap. 

While federal loans can be more beneficial with their forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment plans, you are limited on how much you can borrow with most federal loans. If you reach that limit, consider working with Juno to help you find the best offer on private student loans.

Juno can help you to find a student loan or refinance a loan at the most competitive possible rate. We get groups of buyers together and negotiate on their behalf with lenders to save them money on private student loans and private student loan refinance loans. 

Join Juno today to find out more about your options for affordable private student loans to help fund your degree.

Ben Luthi

Written By

Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer based in Salt Lake City, UT. He loves helping people better understand their finances. When he's not traveling, Ben enjoys spending time with his kids, hiking, and watching films. His work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, MarketWatch, Fox Business, and many other publications.


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