More students should enroll in the Federal Work-Study program

Paying for college can be one of the most gut-wrenching things to do. At least two times a year, you sit there on your phone or at your computer looking at how much classes cost. And then you start thinking about what you’re going to cut back on to afford it all.

Fortunately, grants and loans exist to reduce the costs of college, but sometimes the final amount we have to end up paying can still be too much.

However, through the doors of El Camino’s Financial Aid Office awaits an opportunity for students to make college more affordable and it should be used to its fullest extent.

The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) gives El Camino students the chance to be gainfully employed and pay for college dues when enrolled in six units or more.

The program is great for students because it’s free and provides an opportunity for college to be more affordable.

It doesn’t cost money to sign up for the program. The requirements are that students submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to the Financial Aid Office and be qualified for financial aid.

Students are hired across the EC campus and their jobs vary. When a position is open, the departments and divisions themselves reach out to the Financial Aid Office to get their jobs posted. From there, students can choose which jobs they’re interested in and go through the interviewing process as with any other job.

In FWS, students work a particular job until they’ve earned a specific amount of money. That amount changes depending on circumstances such as the amount of funding available and how many students are in FWS. In some cases, students even are given an increase in the amount of money they can earn and they continue to work their job.

As long as funding is available for FWS, students will be able to apply. Since the 2013-2014 school year, the amount of money available to EC’s FWS program has been rising.

During this past 2017-2018 school year, EC’s FWS program dispersed $694,863 among 706 students.

FWS is an easy opportunity right before our very eyes and it’s ripe for the taking. Taking advantage of it is important for a number of reasons.

Students will earn some extra money that can be put towards school to pay for the cost of attendance. Even after that, there will still be some money to put away for a rainy day. Financial security is incredibly valuable, and any steps that go towards that achievement should be taken.

This is also work experience that can be put on resumes, and with the ability to pick and choose which jobs you want with FWS, you can tailor your work towards something you think will be relevant for future employment.

The program is also important for the future of other students. By using the FWS program, it shows the college that students are committed to using the resources given to them. If EC sees that the program is working and that students are using it, we can keep it afloat for incoming students who may need it more than we do. And in a perfect world, more opportunities for students to save on college would be created.

Paying for college can be a burden because of how expensive it is. But with free-to-apply programs like Federal Work-Study, it doesn’t have to be.