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Advising Students: Balancing Financial Obligations & Educational Aspirations

By: TxCAN   |   March 2022

Students, for a variety of reasons, may need to seek employment during or before starting college. This post will provide some resources on how to best advise these students as they seek to balance their dreams as well as their financial obligations.

Money is a key factor in a student’s plan for the future. Financial aid is a great resource that can supplement all of part of a student’s educational expenses, but sometimes there are external factors that make it necessary for a student to find additional streams of financial support. Other times, students may simply desire the opportunity to work to gain experience, network, or expand their resume. Regardless of the reason, here are three different ways students can earn money while still advancing their college or career goals:
  1. Work-Study

    One form of financial aid is Federal Work-Study. The Federal Works Study program allows students who have completed the FAFSA and meet the financial need to be eligible to work on campus. However, work-study eligibility does not guarantee a student will be hired on campus. There are typically processes established at each college or university whereby students must apply for these on-campus positions. This process is typically overseen by the Career Services Office in conjunction with the Financial Aid Office.

    It is important to note that work-study positions are paid at minimum the federal minimum wage, and students can earn up to the amount awarded by the Financial Aid office. Additionally, federal work-study is not the only way to find a campus job. If a student is interested in working on campus and was not eligible for the Federal Work-Study program, they can contact the Career Services Office to learn more about on-campus employment opportunities. Depending on the size of the college or university these jobs may be plentiful or highly competitive. No matter which option a student chooses to pursue, working on campus typically provides the added benefit of a flexible schedule and the convenience of easily transitioning between work and classes.

  2.  Tuition Reimbursement Programs

    A growing number of companies have started to offer tuition reimbursement programs. These programs come in a variety of different formats, but the overarching goal is to provide employees with funds to cover all or a portion of the expenses related to pursing a college degree or professional certification. If a student is interested in working for a company that provides tuition assistance, this list from Get Schooled features over 25 companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs.

    When reviewing tuition reimbursement programs, it is important to look for some key details such as how much of the tuition bill is covered, eligibility requirements, limitations on what majors or certifications are covered, and post-completion requirements. Many employers’ tuition reimbursement programs will require employees to have worked at the company for a specific period of time before being eligible. Likewise, employees may be required to commit to staying with a company for a predetermined period of time after successfully completing their degree or certification program. Knowing this information can help students make an informed decision when considering pursuing these types of programs.  

  3. Apprenticeship Programs

    Apprenticeships Programs exist in a variety of careers and fields of study. The basic structure of an apprenticeship is a paid position where individuals can acquire on-the-job and/or classroom-based training that leads to some type of industry credential. Although apprenticeships are most common in trade professions, there are a growing number of programs available in other career fields. According to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Apprenticeship (OA) “92% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship retain employment, with an average annual salary of $72,000”.

    In fiscal year 2020, there were over 20,000 individuals taking part in over 530 apprenticeship programs in the state of Texas. The process of starting an apprenticeship begins by searching through the Apprenticeship Job Find. This tool allows users to search for apprenticeship jobs or apprenticeship programs by keyword and geographic location. Additionally, American Job Centers provide local touchpoints for more information or details about apprenticeships programs.

The need to work can sometimes be a barrier to achieving career or educational goals. Hopefully, this list will provide you with some helpful resources that can reshape conversations and open new doors for students as they seek to balance thier dreams as well as their financial obligations. For more ideas, content, and news check out our other posts on the TxCAN Blog.
The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.