Work Study Students Essential to College Operations

As work study students prepare to stop employment on Dec. 13, the upcoming spring semester is a good reminder how important these students are to the operations of the college.

Many full-time employees across the college once started as work study students. As of Nov. 5. Northwest Vista College through the Federal Work Study program put to work about 189 students and had another 46 students on a waiting list (not placed in jobs yet). The money these students make helps with books, transportation or living costs and doesn’t pull from the financial aid they are already receiving.

Across the Alamo Colleges District, there were about 853 students who were in the Federal Work Study (FWS) program as of Nov. 5. Alamo Colleges work study students earn $12.50 an hour, which is 53% more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Students are allowed to work up to 15 hours a week, and can work during the summer if they are taking classes and are approved for aid.

For many students being a work study allows them to experience their first jobs.

“I live at home with my parents. I pay for my own phone bill, gas and clothes and supplies for school,” said Haneen Rafati, a work study student in NVC’s Marketing & Strategic Communications office. “Since I don’t get allowance anymore, it’s nice to be independent and being a work study will help me be more employable in the future.

Rafati added that having the work study job means she doesn’t have to take additional loans to help pay for the costs associated with college.

According to the Urban Institute, about 600,000 students participate in the Federal Work Study program, compared with the more than 7 million students who receive federal Pell grants.

While most jobs are on campus, Alamo Colleges also has a community-based work study program with over 70 partners seeking work study students. Students can get positions in IT, animal services, the arts, graphic design, mathematics or engineering.

To be eligible to participate in the Federal Work Study program, students must qualify for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Work study is available to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students.

The earnings a student makes through the FWS program, doesn’t count against them when completing the FAFSA, so the income does not jeopardize future financial aid eligibility. While earnings are subject to federal and state income tax, a student doesn’t have to pay FICA taxes if they are enrolled in college full time and work only part time.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, work study students will be able to return to work, and a new pool of students will be looking for jobs. Contact Eva Gaitan at to find a student employee. To learn more about community-based work study positions, contact Martha Trevino at






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