Most Policy Initiative logo

Federal & State Work-Study Programs

September 20, 2021
view pdf
WRITTEN BY Dr. Brittany Whitley

Work-study programs allow students with financial need to receive federal or state financial aid for participating in approved work experiences. Most work-study students are employed in on-campus jobs that are not directly related to their specific course of study. Recent changes in the federal work-study (FWS) program and some statewide work-study programs have begun exploring ways to more closely link work-study jobs to student careers and local employment needs. Missouri currently does not offer a state-funded work-study program, although legislation was proposed in 2020 (HB 1430). 


  • Work-study students are more likely to remain in school through graduation. The impact of work-study on college retention is typically attributed to the increased connection that on-campus employment provides students with their institution.
  • Because employment can compete for students’ scholastic time, work-study programs have been associated with slight reductions in academic achievement  for some students.
  • Twelve states (e.g., IN, KS, TX) currently offer state-funded work-study programs for college students within the state. 
  • State work-study programs are typically created to incentivize schools to partner with external employers in order to provide students with jobs that more closely match their career interests.


  • There is limited research as to the effectiveness of statewide work-study programs compared to FWS and other forms of financial aid. 
Most Policy Initiative logo
238 E High St., 3rd Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101

© 2022 MOST Policy Initiative | Website design and development by Pixel Jam Digital
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram