Federal Work-Study can offer more than money

You've got a lot of decisions to make about your first year of college! You'll soon be locking in your class schedule, deciding how heavy an academic load to shoulder, and making decisions about financial aid. For example, of the funds available to you for loans, how much do you really need? (Hint: even if you accept just part of the loan now, you can decide to borrow the remaining amount later, if you see that you need it). Another such decision you may face is: if you're offered a campus job through the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program, should you accept it?

Obvious advantages include the chance to earn some money and gain some professional experience. So why would anyone decline the FWS component of a financial aid offer?

One reason may be that students and parents worry that the hours of work will negatively affect academics. The Office of Student Financial Services at the University of Texas notes that some students and parents feel "it will be too difficult to manage classes, study time, social life and a job" while making the adjustment to college life.

Research, however, shows that the opposite is true. A 2013 research report by TG (the company that brings you AIEmail) called "A Brief Look at … College Work-Study," citing this study by the Department of Education, among others, shows that undergraduate students who participate in FWS "are more likely to graduate than students who do not."

Whether it's because a job on campus makes students feel more connected to campus life, or because the time pressure forces students to more efficiently manage their study time, the benefits of participating in FWS can be more than just a paycheck. (Of course, the paycheck doesn't hurt, either.)