Work Studies earn students cash, experience

Monday, July 28, 2008 | 2:10 p.m. CDT; updated 3:10 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 28, 2008
Courtney Loganbill tutors Alandra Williams in the Jumpstart trailor at West Boulevard School. Work Study is designed for students who need help paying educational expenses.

First-time college students learn quickly that education fees add up. While at college, students also must pay for everyday expenses such as lodging, food and transportation. The government has a program for students who need help making financial ends meet.

Federal Work Study is federally funded and designed to give part-time employment to undergraduate and graduate students who need the income to help them meet the costs incurred during their education.


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To be considered for Work Study, students must indicate interest for the program by checking box 35 when filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Two offices at MU run the Work Study program. The Financial Aid Office determines eligibility and allocates Work Study funds to students. The MU Career Center develops employment opportunities and refers students to positions.

The Career Center, located in the lower level of the Student Success Center, maintains a database that lists all available positions. The database can be accessed through any computer with Internet access.

Jobs listed on the database are open to students of any major. Once a student decides on a job, a referral sheet is generated and given to the prospective employer. The employer then conducts an interview to determine if the student is right for the position.

"With most of the positions, training is provided by the employer, and they usually accept students from any class rank," said Amit Puri, graduate assistant at the MU Career Center.

Employers work with students to create work schedules and wage rates. Students employed through Work Study are placed on the MU payroll and are paid by direct deposit every other week.

A number of academic departments at MU have job openings offered through Work Study. The Work Study program also offers students a chance to work for local not-for-profit organizations. This allows students to earn wages and professional experience while also helping others in the community. The MU Work Study program works with two not-for-profit organizations. Jumpstart pairs students with preschool children to provide one-on-one early childhood education. A Way with Words and Numbers is a tutoring program that helps students master the basic skills of literacy and math. Through this organization, Work Study students work throughout Columbia assisting children in preschool through eighth grade, as well as adults.

The name of the program can be a bit deceiving. Students who obtain jobs through Work Study should be prepared to work, not to study or do homework.

"Really, the only difference between Work Study jobs and other jobs is the source of funding," Puri said.


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