Working while studying: An in-depth look at the work study program

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By Aria Walfrand

The federal work-study program has been around Union College since its inception in 1964 as part of the Economic Opportunity Act. This program aims to help deserving students with their overall costs of college by giving them jobs on campus and paying them bi-weekly to cover personal expenses related to attending Union College.

Currently there are 658 students who have work-study at Union. The school actually has a two-part program for work-study. There is the federal work-study, wherein the federal government provides the school with money to pay the students. Union has to match at least 25%, which, according to Laura Augustine Associate Director in the Office of Financial Aid and Family Financing, Union always exceeds.

The other part to the program is the Union College Work-Study Program, which is usually reserved for international students and other students who cannot benefit from the federal work-study program.

In order to get work-study, students must demonstrate “moderate to high” financial need. This is determined by calculating the cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, room and board, and allowance for personal expenses (such as books). Then, the expected family contribution is subtracted from that amount. Augustine calculated that anyone with a need of greater than roughly $15,000 was offered work-study. The jobs pay minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) and the average work-study allowance is $1,800 for the year.

Some work-study placements are less involved than others, but Augustine notes that “you should do work at work-study.” That’s what the students are getting paid for.

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