The Post 9/11 GI Bill is the most generous education benefit in the history of the GI Bill. But even as good as it is, sometimes it is still not enough to meet the financial demands today of getting a college education. One little-known program that can help fund  your education is the VA Work-Study Program.

work study program Requirements

Not all veterans or family members using GI Bill benefits will qualify for the VA’s Work-Study Program. First, a student must be enrolled full-time or at least 3/4 time in a college degree program, vocational or professional program and using one of the following GI Bills:

  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty or Selected Reserve
  • Vocational Training and Rehabilitation for Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities
  • Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program
  • Fry Scholarship

The Work

Work assigned can be either located at a VA facility or on campus. If assigned by the VA, work can be:

  • At a VA facility itself, such as a hospital or clinic.
  • At a Department of Defense, Coast Guard, or National Guard facility relating to the administration of the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve.
  • At a State Veterans agency related to assisting Veterans in obtaining any benefit under Title 38, U.S.C. or the laws of the State.

If working on campus, the work could be:

  • Working in a Center for Excellence for Veteran Student Success to support and coordinate academic, financial, physical, and social needs of Veteran students.
  • Working in a cooperative program carried out jointly by the VA and the school.
  • A veterans-related position at a school, such as:
    • Preparing and processing necessary papers and other documents at educational institutions.
    • Assisting with dissemination of general information regarding Veteran benefits and/or services.
    • Assisting veteran students with benefits via phone, email, or in person.
    • Maintaining and organizing veteran-related files.

The work assigned will depend on what jobs are available at the time, the student’s interests and the amount of time by the student that can be devoted to working.

As far as who gets first choice of available work, it goes to veterans based on the following factors:

  • Highest priority goes to veterans having service-connected disabilities or disabilities rated by VA at 30% or more.
  • Veterans with non service-connected disabilities.
  • Those having the ability to complete the work-study contract before the end of their GI Bill entitlement.
  • Job availability within normal commuting distance.

The work can be performed both while enrolled and during breaks between terms if the student desires. As far as hours worked, it is up to the student as far as the amount of work they can handle and still keep up on their schoolwork. However, the total number of hours can’t exceed 25 times the number of weeks in an enrollment period. In a 16-week semester, the student would be limited to 400 hours or about 25 hours per week.

The Pay

The pay can vary depending on if working for the VA or school and in which state. The hourly wage paid to students working for the VA will be either the federal wage minimum or the state’s minimum wage where the school is located, whichever is greater.

If working for a school, the pay can be the difference between what the VA pays and the amount the school normally pays its work-study students doing the same work, if there is a difference.

Students in the program can choose an advance payment for 40% of the hours in their agreement or 50 hours, whichever is less. From then on, the VA will pay after each additional 50 hours of work or every two weeks, whichever comes first.

The money earned from the VA Work-Study Program can negate, or at least reduce the amount of student loan money that would otherwise be needed to meet education expenses. And depending on the work assigned, some additional skills can be learned along the way that could prove useful later on in school or life after school.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.