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Report: Work-Study Students More Likely to Graduate

July 29, 2014

Students who participate in the federal work-study program are more likely to graduate and be employed six years after college than their similar counterparts who don’t participate in the program, according to a new study.

Two Columbia University researchers, Judith Scott-Clayton and Veronica Minaya, examined the impact of work-study jobs on students’ academic and future employment outcomes compared to students working in non-work-study jobs and those not working at all.

They found that the work-study program had a positive academic effect – but no impact on later employment – for work-study students who planned to work during college regardless of whether they received the federal benefit (about half of all work-study students). For the other segment of work-study students – students who would not have worked without work-study – the researchers found no or a slightly negative impact on academics but positive effects on their post-college employment.

The authors of the study also found that the positive effects of the work-study program were magnified for lower-income and lower-SAT students compared with their wealthier, higher-scoring peers.

That finding, the authors write, suggest that the effectiveness of the Federal Work-Study program “might be increased by modifying the allocation formula--which currently provides disproportionate support to students at elite private institutions--to better target lower-income and lower-scoring students.”

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Michael Stratford

Michael Stratford, Reporter, covers federal policy for Inside Higher Ed. He joined the publication in August 2013 after a stint covering the Arkansas state legislature for The Associated Press. He previously worked and interned at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education. At The Chronicle, he wrote about federal policy and covered higher education issues in the 2012 elections. Michael grew up in Belmont, Mass. and graduated from Cornell University, where he was managing editor of The Cornell Daily Sun.

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