From on Campus to Community Service- Where an Award Can Take You
by Kristina Delbridge, director of Financial Aid, SUNY Empire State College
Perhaps one of the most overlooked sources of financial aid available to students is Federal Work Study. The Federal Work Study program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to help pay education expenses by earning money.
Federal Work Study has long intrigued me - yes, you have to work to earn the funds, but work-study earnings also have the advantage of being excluded when applying for financial aid in subsequent years. Students have flexibility of hours and location; some students preferring to find an on-campus appointment and getting some office experience, while others prefer working at a non-profit agency that ties into their degree aspirations or fulfills their desire to give back to their community.
At SUNY Empire State College, it inspires me to see that we have students volunteering in settings all across New York State. We have students devoting their time and skills through family literacy projects or tutoring of pre-school and elementary aged children, tutoring of their peers or working as note takers to assist other students - items which show me their passion for education and service to others. We have students who are working at various positions within the college, some using their journalism talents to assist with our student newsletters, others contributing to the success of our students through their work with our retention specialists, working with our faculty, and still others greeting fellow students and providing necessary information. We also have students showcasing their talents and encouraging an appreciation of history and art by working at living museums or in non-profit art galleries. The variety of experiences and opportunities allow for students to develop or hone in on skill sets that can help make them more marketable for future employment opportunities.
These students may have started their Federal Work Study position with an intent to earn some extra money, but the end result that I have witnessed is so much more. In addition to earning extra money, students build professional experience which can be added to their resume. This helps to gain insight in the higher education field or within non-profits. Students become more diverse and have a deeper appreciation of service and equally important, and build up their network for future possibilities.
Currently, the Financial Aid office is still looking for qualified students with unmet financial need who are interested in Federal Work Study. To find out more about this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.