College can be expensive. To pay for it, you might be using a combination of savings, scholarships, grants, and student loans.

You may also consider working to offset your college costs. There are jobs available, both sponsored by your college and ones off campus, too. Below are some of the opportunities you may find that you can schedule around your coursework.

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for students who qualify based on the information they provided on the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you are awarded work-study as part of your financial aid package, you need to seek out and apply for qualified work-study positions—they’re not given out automatically. Like traditional part-time jobs, the money is paid directly to you so you can apply it toward your expenses.

Pros: Usually on-campus (although there may be off-campus options available), so there’s a convenience factor. Your supervisor may be flexible with hours, and you won’t need to find anyone to cover for you during school breaks.

Cons: There may be limited work-study job availability, or the jobs available may not align with your skill set, schedule, or interests. Also, these jobs typically pay minimum wage and there is a limit to the hours you can work, so it may be hard to make the money you need.

Part-time Jobs

From retail to restaurants, there are usually plenty of off-campus jobs available for students. These aren’t part of the work-study program, which means you have more flexibility in the amount of hours you can work and the potential to earn more than minimum wage.

Pros: You have flexibility to seek out jobs where you want that align with your interests and schedule. You can also earn more than the minimum wage, which is helpful if you rely on earnings to help pay for college.
Cons: These jobs might be competitive and hard to find, and you will need reliable transportation to get to and from work, which could be challenging if you don’t have a car on campus. Managers may expect you to be available during school breaks and it may be harder to take time off for studying or extracurriculars. Plus, long shifts and getting to and from your job may make it tough to balance all your commitments.

Gig Work

From rideshare driving to dog walking, gig work typically doesn’t have a set schedule and might be one-off or short-term and pay cash.

Pros: Gig work offers a lot of flexibility with the ability to ramp up when you need money or have extra time.

Cons: Trying to find work can be tough, and the lack of consistency can make it challenging to anticipate your income. You may also need additional insurance for ridesharing and food delivery, which could eat into your earnings. For jobs that pay cash, you may need to report this income on your taxes. These jobs might not enhance your résumé the way more traditional jobs would.


An internship is typically a program where you learn a skill, in exchange for college credits or salary. Internships can introduce you to a career field and can help you build your résumé.

Pros: Internships can build your résumé and can help you build your network for the future. They can provide college credit, which can help you graduate sooner if you intern over the summer or a break, and some even pay a salary. These can be a great way to try out a company or a career path before committing long term.
Cons: Internships are generally competitive because there is limited availability. You are also not guaranteed to be offered a position once you graduate. Additionally, some internship programs are unpaid and/or don’t offer college credit. Make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions of your internship offer before accepting.


A funded short-term opportunity, a fellowship pays money for you to work and study. This might be doing independent research or working with a professor on their research.

Pros: These can be a great way to immerse yourself in your field and can look great on your résumé.

Cons: Fellowships can be hard to find. Some funding may not be robust, so you still might need to find another job to pay the bills.

Research Assistant

Research assistants typically work with a professor or lab on campus. They can be offered through Federal Work-Study, but professors may also offer them directly to students based on interest and skills.

Pros: Research assistant positions can be great if graduate school is in your future, helping build your résumé while also helping you learn more about the field.

Cons: These positions can be competitive. It can be a good idea to really understand what the job entails as some are much more demanding than others.

You’ll likely have a combination of jobs throughout your college career. You might prioritize different roles based on your needs at the time. For example, a part-time restaurant job in the summer can provide the cash you need for a semester where you’ll focus on an internship. Meet with your career development office about opportunities, talk with upperclassmen about their experiences, and figure out what makes sense for your wallet today, and your résumé tomorrow.

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