Does Federal Work-Study Really Work?

Posted by Columbia University on April 10, 2017

Work-Study Works, But Could be More Equitable

By Kim Cook, Executive Director, NCAN

Given the president’s recent “skinny budget” proposal that “reduces Federal Work-Study [FWS] significantly,” we appreciate the very timely Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment research brief “Does the Federal Work-Study Program Really Work—and for Whom?” by Judith Scott-Clayton and Rachel Yang Zhou. The authors find evidence of positive FWS influence on job placement, degree completion and post-college employment. Specifically, for many students, the key effect of receiving FWS is not earning extra money to finance college or gain work experience, but rather gaining access to a different type of job – on campus, for fewer hours and more likely related to their major. FWS participation increases the likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree within six years by 3 percentage points, and boosts by 2 percentage points the likelihood of being employed six years after initial enrollment.

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