Part-Time Work to Help Pay for College

Studies show that working 10-15 hours a week can help you budget your time and even do better in college – but working more than 20 hours a week often negatively affects academic performance.

So, as long as you find the right balance of work and academics, working is a good way to reduce the amount of money you borrow for college AND to gain valuable work experience.


On-Campus Work

Most colleges or universities hire students to work on campus in various jobs, either as part of a financial aid award (typically called work-study) or because you have certain skills the college needs.

Benefits of on-campus work:

  • Convenient location. You’re on campus for classes anyway.
  • Possible relation to your major. If your work assignment is related to your major field, you can gain valuable experience and good references for the future.
  • More flexible schedule. Generally your supervisor understands your academic responsibilities and is willing to schedule your work around your classes.

Examples of where you might work:

  • Library
  • Academic department
  • Science or computer lab
  • Student Center
  • Student recreation or athletic facilities
  • Dining hall
  • Campus post office
  • Admissions, financial aid or other administrative offices.

The financial aid office at your college or university can give you more information on available options.


Off-Campus Work

Many employers near colleges are often eager to hire students on a part-time basis. An off-campus job might pay more, but you also need to consider:

  • Transportation. How will you get to work? How long will it take? How much will it cost to get to work?
  • Time requirements. Will the work schedule accommodate your class schedule? Will you be expected to work when you need to study? Are your time management skills good enough to balance your class, work and study demands?
  • Less flexibility. Your employer may expect you to be there whether or not you need to study or take an exam.


Internships are another valuable way to get experience in your field of study and boost your employment opportunities after graduation.

  • Some internships are a few hours per week for experience, with no pay;
  • Some are a full-time job during a semester or summer, with or without pay; and
  • Others are part of a cooperative education program that your school sets up with an employer that gives you a chance to work full-time for a semester for on-the-job experience and a salary at the same time.

Talk with the career services office or your academic advisor at the college or university about internship possibilities.