How the VA Work-Study Program Works & How to Get it

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 3/18/20

If you’re a Veteran looking to go back to college or start working toward your first degree, the VA work-study program is an excellent opportunity to gain relevant experience while earning some extra money to help pay tuition. 

While the VA work-study program works like traditional work-study programs, Veterans receive some added benefits and are subject to different requirements. We broke down what it takes to enroll and what you can expect from the program.

Am I Eligible for the VA Work-Study Program?

To take part in the VA work-study program, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You must be enrolled either three-quarter time, or full-time, in a college degree, vocational, or professional program.
  • You must have found a job at a local VA facility, or at your school in a role related to the VA.
  • You must be able to complete the entire VA work-study contract while still eligible for education benefits.
  • You must be using an approved VA education benefit program to pay for your degree or program.

Eligible VA Education Benefit Programs for VA Work-Study

If you are taking advantage of any of the following GI Bill programs, you may qualify for VA work-study:

Students taking part in the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) program are ineligible for the VA work-study program.

What Factors Does the VA Use When Selecting Work-Study Participants?

The VA makes the selection process simple for everyone, and uses the following criteria to determine who gets accepted into the VA work-study program:

  • Applicants must be able to complete the work-study contract while still eligible for education benefits.
  • There must be VA jobs available, local to the applicant.
  • Work-study applicants with service-connected disability or disabilities of 30% or more may be considered first.

What Do VA Work-Study Participants Do?

The jobs available through the VA work-study program all have to be related to the VA. 

Examples of services you may perform include the following:

  • The creation and handling of papers and documents at colleges and other educational institutions
  • Any activity at a VA facility
  • Any activity at Department of Defense, Coast Guard, or National Guard facilities relating to the administration of Chapters 1606 or 1607 of Title 10 U.S.C.
  • Any activity of a State Veterans agency related to providing assistance to Veterans in obtaining any benefit under Title 38, U.S.C. or the laws of the state
  • A position working in a Center for Excellence for Veteran Student Success, as established under 20 U.S.C. 1161t, whose purpose is to support and coordinate the academic, financial, physical, and social needs of Veteran students
  • A position working in a cooperative program carried out jointly by the VA and an Institution of Higher Learning
  • Any veterans-related position in an Institution of Higher Learning, such as:
    • Assisting with the dissemination of general information regarding Veteran benefits and/or services
    • Providing assistance to Veteran students with general inquiries about Veteran benefits via phone, email, or in-person
    • Maintaining and organizing veteran-related files

Keep in mind that job duties will vary from location to location, and the program attempts to place you in a job that aligns with your chosen line of study, where job availability allows.

How Much Are VA Work-Study Participants Paid?

Participants in the VA work-study program can expect to make either the Federal or State minimum wage, whichever one is higher. If you decide to take a work-study position at your college or university that pays more than the VA work-study program, your school may elect to pay the difference.

Unlike the work-study program offered through the Federal Student Aid program, VA work-study allows participants to be paid a portion of their total allotment in advance. You can choose to be paid in advance for either 50 hours or 40% of the total number of hours in your work-study agreement, whichever is less.

After you’ve worked up to the hours paid out in your advance, you will then be paid either bi-weekly, or each time you work 50 hours, whichever happens first. 

You can choose to work as many hours as you would like during your enrollment, as long as the total number of hours doesn’t surpass 25 times the number of weeks in your enrollment period.

How To Apply For the VA Work-Study Program

To apply for VA work-study, first, fill out VA Form 22-8691. Once you’ve finished filling out the application, send it to the VA Regional Processing Office responsible for the state in which your school is located. For help finding your Regional Processing Office, look here for a directory of offices throughout the U.S.