5 Ways to Supplement Work Study Income Amid COVID-19

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Colleges of Distinction »

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on higher education, many students are left to find ways to adapt. Many students rely on Federal Work Study income to pay for tuition, room and board, and other personal expenses. As the federal government scrambles to find solutions for higher education institutions, it can be difficult to keep with where things stand. While the government is working with higher institutions to help students during this trying time, students are wise to consider other options in the meantime. Here are 5 ways to supplement or replace your FWS income. 

1. Get FWS money from your institution through the CARES Act

Last March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide much-needed aid to nearly every sector of the economy. The $2 trillion bill provided about $14 billion to institutions of higher education, stipulating that half of the funds be distributed directly to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants. This aid meant that students who relied on Federal Work Study income could still be paid regardless of campus closures. There are certain limitations, but by and large, students are able to receive the amount of money they could have expected for the academic year. 

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Almost a year later with a new president on the horizon, more aid is being sent to colleges and universities. President Biden released a summary for his $1.9 trillion relief package, which includes $35 billion in aid for colleges and universities. While there is still some confusion about the kind of aid private colleges will receive, millions of students will receive up to $1,700 in financial assistance from their school. This most-recently approved coronavirus relief will allow more flexibility than in 2020’s CARES Act on how colleges and universities can spend the money. 

2. Satisfy FWS Requirements through community partnerships

While certain on-campus FWS opportunities are no longer possible due to campus closures, students can satisfy the requirements through community partners. The CARES act stipulates that off-campus opportunities, such as internships or community service projects, can satisfy these requirements. Job platforms such as Indeed and Handshake are wonderful resources for students. You should explore as many as these opportunities that feel safe. The Career Center at your school can help you discern which off-campus opportunities satisfy your FWS requirements. Many schools, especially the Colleges of Distinction which all prioritize real-world engagement, have made helpful adjustments to keep students supported through this time.

3. Appeal for supplemental funds from your school’s financial aid office

Everyone is struggling right now, but there are resources available to you. Each year, students and their families go through hardship, and colleges do the best they can to help. A financial aid appeal is a formal request for additional financial aid to offset the burdens of a number of life’s mishaps. A global pandemic is no exception. Coronavirus relief provided to colleges can be used to honor financial aid appeals. Talk to the financial aid office and see if there have been any amendments to the appeal process. Despite the ubiquity of hardship right now, you’ll likely still need to provide documentation of wage losses or proof of other extenuating circumstances. 

4.  Apply for more scholarships 

Now is the time to look for sources of cash wherever you can. Take some time to explore some scholarships. Check out Colleges of Distinction’s Mega List of Scholarships. There are scholarships ranging from household names like Coca-Cola to smaller, more niche scholarships. This list is constantly updated, so there are always new opportunities to find aid. 

5. Find a safe part-time job

If you still need additional income, it might be wise to look for a part-time job that fits into your schedule. Start your part-time job search as close to your field of study as possible. You never know what company might need some extra help running their social media accounts or who might be looking for a tutor! If options are limited in these sectors, seek out gig work that prioritizes safety and social distancing. Become a runner for Favor or UberEats, which require contactless delivery. Or, if you’re a dog person, you could make some extra cash by working for companies like Rover or Wag! These jobs also offer some extra flexibility so you can incorporate them into your study schedule.