The Benefits of Working as a Student

Student employment is a WIN for both the student and the employer.   The student employee benefits from the additional financial resources and an opportunity to develop skills for future employment.  The employer benefits from a creative and motivated workforce.

Student employment provides students with career-enhancing opportunities, the ability to develop skills relevant to any majors, and the necessary preparation and assistance for competitive job markets.  While you may think working as a student will take time away from your academics, studies show that students who work 20 hours or less per week statistically do better in school on average than their non-working peers (Noel-Levitz, 2010). Also, students who are “connected” to campus report a higher satisfaction with their college life, graduate in higher numbers, and graduate more quickly.

UI research shows that on campus student employment makes a significant difference in retention rates and graduation rates.  For instance, over the past nine years, the average retention rate for campus student employees is 93% but the average for non-student employees is 85%.  For four-year graduation rates, the difference between student workers and student non-workers is 57% to 49.3%.  The difference for six year graduation rates is 82% to 70.1%.  This information is compiled collaboratively between the Office of Student Financial Aid and University College.

Work-Study Definition

During each year, over 1,000 University of Iowa students are employed through Work-Study positions. Work-Study is a limited-fund financial aid program where students are paid for the hours worked at their work-study job. Students are not paid to study. Payment for the hours worked is deposited in the student's bank account, it is not credited to the student's University account (U-Bill).

Students are not guaranteed a job if they are offered work-study. As with any on or off-campus job, students must apply, and a great place to start is the Handshake website. Some Handshake job postings can only be filled by students offered work-study. Often students that have been offered work-study can more easily find a job.  Employers are anxious to hire work-study students since they pay only 50% of the student's wages and the work-study program pays the other 50%.

Work-Study students can be employed at University jobs or with approved off-campus government or non-profit agencies. Some jobs are designed to specifically benefit the community and are designated as community service positions.

To be offered Work-Study, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Demonstrate financial need by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year
  • Request to be offered Work-Study when completing the FAFSA
  • Be enrolled for at least six hours as an undergraduate student or five hours as a graduate student. For the summer, graduate students must be enrolled for at least three hours. View information on the impact of dropping a class or withdrawing from the semester.

Earning Potential and Hours Limitations

The maximum Work-Study offer is $2,500 per semester ($1,750 per semester for freshman and transfer students). The minimum offer is $500 per semester. Summer maximums are determined each year based on funding availability.

Student hourly work limitations are established by State of Iowa Law. Students may work a maximum number of 20 hours per week during the academic year. However, students may work a maximum of 40 hours per week during Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks and over the summer.

Proof of Work-Study Eligibility

Students can print proof of the dollar value of their work-study offer from MyUI. Some employers request this information be provided to them as part of the application process and others will ask that it be provided to them during the interview. Students have the ability to print the proof and upload it to the Handshake system.


Need assistance with searching for jobs, job postings, and Handshake? Contact the Pomerantz Career Center:

Need assistance with Work-Study, employment policies, or employment options?  Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid: