Report: Rethinking Work-Study Programs


The Federal Work-Study program currently offers low-income students the opportunity to work while enrolled in higher education. But could it also serve as a career-readiness program?

A new report from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) gives recommendations for how colleges can rethink work-study programs to more intentionally prepare students for the “real world.”

“As time and resource constraints prevent students from engaging in unpaid co-curricular activities, on-campus employment is well positioned to serve as a paid learning and engagement opportunity that will improve student retention and connection to the institution,” the report states.

Their suggestions include creating a hiring system that would better mimic professional work opportunities, helping students document and evaluate their on-campus work experiences, and giving supervisors guidelines and support to offer professional development opportunities for students.

“Institutions have an opportunity to alleviate the concerns that many students have when faced with choosing between work and school,” the report states. “On-campus employment can help students meet their financial demands and also prepare them to succeed in a career after graduation.”

President Trump’s proposed 2020 budget would reduce funding for the Federal Work-Study program. NACAC opposes these cuts.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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