Are you a college-bound student who’s been asking family and friends, “How do I find a college for me?” and scouring the Internet for your options? Apart from sorting through your choices based on good quality college education, you need to acknowledge the fact that attending colleges isn’t cheap.
Let’s face it; the reality is that we’re living in times when tuition rates are growing steadily at a tremendous rate on a yearly basis. That’s not even including the additional costs that books, room and boarding, and transportation incur!
Thinking about working while studying? Wouldn’t it be nice to work while you are taking courses?
Some students may shun the idea of juggling work and study, especially if you’re one who would rather focus on the mountainous tasks college students usually deal with. While it may sound like a lot of unexciting work to some, working and studying at the same time is a great opportunity for students. Earning income as a student may not cover all your college expenses and it may not be enough for your college spending needs but you can definitely use the extra financial help. If you’re a penny pincher of sorts, your work as a student might even mean extra for your daily allowances.
Besides earning for your schooling, think about the significant perk of working while studying: practical work experience that you can proudly include in your resume should you decide to pursue the degree you will soon earn.
In the United States, there are Federal Work-Study Programs offered for both undergraduate and graduate students after completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These opportunities allow them to:
- work during the day and take classes in evenings or on weekends
- get employed on- and off-campus depending on the program
- work part-time or full-time employment
- get paid regular American wage as the law dictates
Working on-campus, you earning will based on the current federal minimum wage, and depending on your type of work or position. Certain parameters dictate how your work-study efforts will be awarded, including based on your level of financial need, the school’s Federal Aid funding, and partly depending on your undergraduate or graduate status as a student.
There are several on-campus work you can apply for including school website manager, tour guide, library assistant, alumni center assistant, resident assistant, writing tutor, paper editor, post office, career services assistant, IT assistant, and more. Your work hours will be determined by you’re the financial aid office in your school, which will consider your academic progress and class schedule.
There are colleges and universities across the country where the Federal Work-Study program is implemented. So whether you’re completing a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree, you can pick the school with work opportunities that best suit your needs and meet your schedule. Here are some of the top institutions with student work opportunities:
- University Of Idaho
- Pennsylvania State University
- University Park Campus
- University of Georgia
- University Of Alaska Anchorage
- Saint Xavier University
What About International Students?
If you’re a qualified international student, there is employment available for you while you are enrolled in a U.S. college or university. A growing number of schools are generously offering Curricular Practical Training or CPT.
Also called “work-study”, CPT is a unique program for international students to off-campus part-time or full-time jobs that are related to their field of study. Several colleges in the United States offer these programs in coordination with immediate employers. In fact, CPT is integrated in the academic curriculum through a cooperative agreement between a college or university and sponsoring employers.
To be eligible for CPT employment, international student must:
- have been enrolled in school full-time for one year on valid F-1 status (except for graduate students that vary in terms of requirements);
- take a job offer that is directly related to their major or field of study; and
- obtain official authorization from your school’s International Student Office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (UCSIS).
Before applying for CPT, you have to consider some important factors. It’s an absolute must for you to first understand the nature of your course and efficiently manage your time and schedule. As with any regular job, you get paid for employment under the CPT program.
What About OPT?
Regardless of whether you are approved for full or part-time on CPT, there is no limit to how long can you work. However, if you exceed the 12-month limit under CPT, you may not be eligible for the other type of F-1 program: Optional Practical Training or OPT.
The biggest differences between CPT and OPT are the type of work under these programs and the allowable period for eligibility. OPT is not bound by any cooperative agreement between a sponsoring employer and the university. Unlike CPT that requires completion prior to graduation, OPT may be completed anytime before or after students graduate. Students can also opt to extend their work-study period for another 17 months, depending on their major.
Remember that different CPT and OPT rules apply to undergraduates, graduate students, and PhD candidates. When dealing with these student employment programs, work closely with your International Student Office. Your ISO can help you determine your eligibility.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are an international student studying in the U.S., you have the opportunity to work part-time but remember that you are restricted by the terms of your visa. It is a MUST that you know all the requirements and restrictions concerning your visa. Bear in mind that you need to abide by all the rules set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for your CPT or OPT authorization.
Work-study opportunities not only offer international students the opportunity to help cover the cost of their education. These programs also help them practice, hence enhance, their communication skills in an English-speaking environment through the CPT and OPT programs. Moreover, they also help gain valuable related work experience while helping earn their degree.
Think you’re ready for actual work that isn’t academically bound following your on-campus work and internship or CPT and OPT stints? Your college has a dedicated helping center to assist candidates like you, international or otherwise, to become a successful part of the workforce. Career development centers in universities help students learn resumé building, interviewing etiquette, and professionalism to make a prime candidate out of you.
Here is a video detailing all the types of U.S Student Federal Aid, which also includes the Work Study program: