Skip to main content

Peer Advice: Work Study - How Does It Work?


Graduate school can be an exciting place to learn and to build on the skills you’ll need in a future career. However, it can also be very expensive.

One of the many ways to offset the costs is work study, which is like a traditional job. Unlike a typical job, work study does not reduce your financial aid eligibility. Work-study jobs also require the employers to consider your class schedule when assigning work hours. Additionally, the rate for work study is currently $16 per hour for any work-study position, which is more than what other part-time jobs may be offering.

Personally, I’ve involved myself in quite a few work study endeavors. Currently, I’m a lab monitor, a peer advisor, a practice partner, and I work at the library. I’m also working on a project with a professor, which is also paid via work study. I set up work study through the Financial Aid Office. Depending on the job, there will be paperwork you might need to complete (W-4 Form, I-9 Form, direct deposit form, etc.). If you’re involved in multiple work-study jobs, you only set up for work study once.

My first position was a lab monitor. This involves ensuring cleaning supplies were in the practice room, and that people were safely social distancing. This job was very flexible, and works very well for busy students - there’s no minimum number of hours. Lab monitoring also helped me review things I learned in clinical courses.

The next position I picked up was as a practice partner, which I found through, via the tab for Financial Aid under the menu on the left for federal work study/student employment. This position was also very flexible, and involved sitting as a practice partner for people who can’t partner with other students (for example, if they can’t be dilated). This position gave me some extra hours occasionally, and also allowed me to review clinical skills.

I next applied for the position of a peer advisor. A peer advisor is someone who helps give insight to the incoming class about what to expect, how to prepare, and answers various questions. As someone who gained a lot from their peer advisor and their peer group, I wanted to impart that same level of guidance to the incoming class, and help welcome incoming students to SCCO.

Over the summer, I also started working at the library, a position I became aware of through an email. Shifts at the library are typically once a week, and are about 6 hours long. Responsibilities include checking in and checking out materials, as well as various other tasks. It is a good job for people who want to be able to study on the side while they work, as the tasks delegated are assigned such that they should never take up more than half your shift. If you love being surrounded by books (like me) that is also a huge bonus to this position.

My most recent position involves a project I’m working on with a professor. After conversing through email and Zoom about what I wanted to do, I had the professor email Financial Aid for project approval. Once that went through, I was able to start on the project.

For work study, you can work a maximum of 8 hours in a day, within a maximum of 20 hours a week when enrolled. Trying to balance the different projects with school can be a bit of a puzzle, but planning ahead and establishing routines definitely helps. I would also recommend working on assessing priorities, and knowing your limits.

Good luck on your search!