Popular Work-Study Jobs and Where to Find Them

If you’ve been granted a federal work-study award, your part-time employment could earn you more than just a few extra dollars. For some college students, a part-time job can actually improve focus, lead to higher grades, and teach valuable life skills that can’t be learned in a classroom.

Plus, the federal work-study program includes a variety of opportunities to fit all types of students. You can work a job on-campus related to your degree program, or find an off-campus option that taps into a hobby or passion. The opportunities are vast — but they can be competitive. Don’t sleep on your federal work-study award. Check out these popular work-study jobs and start the application process today. 

Key takeaways

  • Work-study eligibility is determined by a student’s financial need via their FAFSA®.
  • Receiving a federal work-study award does not guarantee you a job. You’ll still need to find, apply for, and win the job on your own. 
  • Utilize resources available from your school to find a federal work-study job, including the career center, professors, academic advisors, online job boards, and fellow students.
  • Work-study pay varies by job, school, and state. 
  • Work-study earnings can be utilized for anything – tuition, fees, rent, books, supplies, food, transportation, etc. 

Popular work-study jobs 

Being a full-time student is like a full-time job, which is why the federal work-study program aims to provide part-time employment that enhances a student’s course of study. A number of these popular options for student employment might help you become a stronger student, or even enable you to complete coursework on the job. Regardless, all of them will teach you valuable life skills you can use after college. 

1. Research assistant

Getting a job as a research assistant is a great way to get hands-on experience in your course of study while getting paid. Students in the sciences are particularly suited to this option. Whether you’re working on a psychological study or in a chemistry lab, most often, these jobs will be on-campus, and they tend to pay more than other federal work-study jobs. 

2. Fitness center employee 

If you have a passion for physical fitness or your major is related to physical therapy, visit your school’s fitness center and check out their job offerings. At some schools, these roles are purely administrative where you help schedule group fitness classes and advise other students on how to use the facilities. At others, you could get hands-on experience working as a personal trainer or group fitness instructor. 

3. Campus tour guide 

If you had the opportunity to visit your college campus as a high schooler, you might remember the friendly face who showed you the biology building while rattling off fun school facts. Snag a job as a campus tour guide and help welcome future students to your university. You’ll need to be good at memorization, socializing with families, and fielding questions from prospective students

4. Tutor

Tutoring is a job you could do both on- and off-campus. A lot of universities provide discounted tutoring to students to help them make sense of difficult classes or simply access more individualized attention. But don’t let that stop you from looking off-campus for families and schools in need of qualified tutors. Work one-on-one with a family or build a relationship with a local school to keep your tutoring calendar full. 

5. Library assistant

Working in the library is a great opportunity to get to know your school’s offerings even better. You’ll be amazed at the variety of volumes most school libraries house – and you may even discover a new passion while shelving misplaced books. Students who land this work-study job will handle tasks like organizing returned books, maintaining the school’s database, and helping visitors find material relevant to their coursework.  

6. Financial aid office assistant

Piecing together the financial aid puzzle to make sure you can afford your degree (particularly if you want to avoid student loans) might feel like a job in itself. If it’s one you’re good at, use your skills to help other undergraduate students in a similar position by applying for work in the financial aid office. Oftentimes, student financial aid assistant roles are heavily administrative and require great attention to detail. 

7. University bookstore clerk

Looking to save money on your school supplies while earning money? As a student employee at your school’s bookstore, you could be eligible for a student discount in addition to the cash earned via your work-study job. You’ll help restock books, clothing, and other items while helping students locate the exact Shakespearean volume they might need for a class. Experience working in retail may give you a leg up on the competition for this in-demand on-campus job. 

8. Community service worker

Depending upon your school’s work-study program, partnerships with local nonprofit organizations could open up opportunities for service-related roles. These roles range greatly by the type of organization you work with, but can involve tasks like fundraising or organizing community outreach events. For students with an interest in social work or nonprofit management, this work-study job might give you a taste of your future career. And you could find extra scholarships to support your community-focused passion, too. 

9. Barista

Most colleges have on-campus coffee shops where students can get a caffeine boost before early classes or late-night study sessions. If you’ve ever wanted to perfect your latte art or learn more about food service and restaurant management, this could be a great work-study position for you.  

10. Resident Advisor

Working as a resident advisor or resident assistant (RA) is an unorthodox type of job. Instead of having set hours, RAs work where they live: in the on-campus dorms. RAs are typically upperclassmen who serve as a mentor to younger students and fosters a positive living environment. RA duties can range from planning social events to mediating roommate conflicts. At some schools, working as an RA covers the cost of room and board. 

How to find a work-study job 

Once you receive your work-study award each academic year, make a list of your interests. Brainstorm work-study jobs that could prepare you for your future career. Consider the rigor of your class schedule and determine how much time you have to spare for work. Then, find a federal work-study job that’s the best fit for you. 

Career center

Your on-campus career center is an ideal place to start looking for work-study jobs. They’ll likely have the most robust catalog of campus employers and positions available. Many schools employ administrators whose sole job is to help students find employment. 

Online job boards

In the wake of the pandemic, many universities began listing their job openings online. Your school might have a unique website or use online job boards like Indeed or ZipRecruiter to find work-study students. Using these online platforms, you might also find remote work-study jobs, which can be perfect if you’re a commuter student or plan to take most of your courses online. Remote work-study jobs are oftentimes administrative or research-based.

Academic advisor

Depending upon your degree program, you might be assigned an academic advisor who oversees your class schedule to ensure you will earn your degree on time. Schedule a meeting with this person and ask them about work-study job availability. They have a front-row seat to the inner workings of your university – and likely some intel on job availability. 


If you’re interested in working as a research assistant or tutor, reach out to the professors who you know and like. Try asking them to keep you in the loop if they hear about departmental work-study positions, or see if they need a research assistant themselves. You’ll never know until you ask, and the worst they can say is no. 


When you graduate, you’ll learn that networking with peers is one of the most effective ways to secure a job. In fact, 30% of employees are hired from a referral of a friend, family member, or former colleague. Talk to your friends, acquaintances, roommates, and classmates. The people in your circle can provide invaluable insight into work-study position availability — and probably even introduce you to the boss to help you get a leg up in the interview process. 

Work-study FAQs

If you’re interested in part-time employment to put some extra cash in your bank account, work-study could be a great option. The program is pretty straightforward, but there are a few little-known details to familiarize yourself with before you dive in. 

What exactly is work-study? 

Work-study is a financial aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education that provides part-time job opportunities for students who demonstrate financial need. The federal work-study program is open to undergraduates and graduate students alike. If awarded, work-study funds will be factored into a student’s overall financial aid package.

How do I know if I have been awarded work-study?

When you receive your financial aid award letter, read it carefully. This document should clearly outline each aspect of your financial aid package and, if you’ve been selected, will include a work-study award. If you don’t see anything about work-study or have questions, contact your school’s financial aid office. Remember: just like other financial aid, you’ll need to accept or decline your work-study award. 

How can I get work-study? 

Eligibility for work-study positions is determined by the financial details you provide in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). To apply, fill out your FAFSA®. During the completion process, you’ll encounter a question that asks if you’re interested in work-study employment. Check yes and you’ll be entered into consideration for the federal work-study program.

Even if you’ve been awarded work-study for one year, you’ll need to complete your FAFSA® each academic year to maintain eligibility. In the past, the FAFSA® become available each year on October 1st. The 2024-2025 FAFSA® opened on December 30th, 2023.

Does work-study guarantee me a job? 

Unfortunately, being awarded work-study funds does not guarantee you a work-study position. Some schools match work-study students with work-study jobs, but the majority don’t. On most campuses, the burden of finding, applying, and interviewing for a job is up to you. But don’t let that deter you – most schools have a website of job listings just for work-study students. 

Do I have to use my work-study earnings to pay my tuition?

Students can use the funds earned via work-study positions to cover their tuition, other educational costs, or day-to-day expenses. Work-study earnings are not required to be put directly toward educational expenses. In fact, most students use these funds to pay for things like food, books, gas, and other miscellaneous costs. 

How much will I get paid?

While your financial aid award letter will include a dollar amount next to your work-study award, you will not be required nor guaranteed to earn that entire amount. All work-study positions guarantee that students will earn the federal minimum wage. As of June 2023, that rate is $7.25 per hour. However, if you go to school in a state that has a higher minimum wage, you’ll be guaranteed to earn that state’s minimum wage. According to Forbes, work-study students earn $1,800 to $1,850 per year on average.

Are all work-study jobs on campus?

No. While many work-study jobs are on campus, you can find them off-campus, too. At most schools, the career center and/or online database should give students access to both on and off-campus jobs. But don’t hesitate to explore other outside resources like LinkedIn or Indeed to find local work-study jobs in your area that might not be on your school’s radar. 

Get matched to scholarships with Going Merry

A federal work-study award can help you gain work experience, learn new skills, and earn extra money for school. And with a wide variety of federal work-study jobs available, you should be able to find a job that suits your interests, skills, and class schedule. Start the process as soon as you receive your financial aid package. 

If you’re looking for other ways to make college affordable, don’t forget to apply for scholarships. Unlike student loans, scholarships are essentially free money. You don’t have to pay them back. And thanks to Going Merry, finding and applying for scholarships is simple, fast, and free. Create a profile, browse awards, and apply to multiple scholarships all at once. Sign up for Going Merry and gain access to thousands of high-quality scholarships to help you afford your college education. 


Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?