Earn While You Learn: VA’s Work-Study Program

VA’s work study program gives student-Veterans the opportunity for hands-on work experience and a monthly part-time income while they are going back to school as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill or other VA education benefit program.

As Executive Director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, Terry Schow has hired and worked with dozens of student-Veterans over the past ten years. His work-study trainees have come from a variety of education institutions, including the University of Utah, Salt Lake City Community College, Weber State University and Utah Valley University; and have gone on to continue their service in the Veterans community through careers in the field including as public affairs officers for VA medical centers, with Veterans Service Organizations including Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and at VA’s Salt Lake City Regional Office.

Through Terry’s work-study opportunity, student-Veterans have the opportunity to learn all sides of the business while working with his staff – from direct outreach to Veterans through planning and attending outreach events to answering calls and letters from Veterans looking for more information on their VA and state Veterans benefits. One recent work-study participant was hired full time for the state agency after he designed and launched a Veterans database for the department.

Through the VA-work study program, Veterans who are three-quarter or full-time students in a college degree, vocational or professional program, can “earn while they learn” with a VA work-study allowance. Students with service-connected disabilities of 30% or greater are given priority consideration in the program. Work-study students perform work related to the VA, including at education institutions, VA facilities, DOD facilities and state Veterans agencies.

Why does Terry utilize VA’s work-study program to help hire student-Veterans? Because they ‘understand the mission’ of his office in the Utah State Department of Veterans Affairs and are comfortable working on a team.

“There’s camaraderie between Veterans,” which make them a key asset to the team, he says.

Samantha O’Neil is a communications specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration.

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7 Comments to “Earn While You Learn: VA’s Work-Study Program”

  1. Ronald Larsen says:

    I am a 62 year old Disabled American Veteran of 20 years Military Service. 2 years in the U.S. Navy FM Feb 18, 1971 to Dec 25, 1972 , when we got back from Vietnam. 18 years in the U.S. Coast Guard FM Jan 31, 1974 to Mar 31, 1992 when I retired. I went on to work at three different Civilian jobs until I injured my right knee in May of 1997. Due to that injury and injuries I sustained while in the Military to my back I became too disabled to work. I am at the point now where I am unable to walk, and need the use of a wheelchair away from home and a walker around my home. I am not eligible for the GI Bill any longer, because of the number of years since I retired from the Military. I need to find something I can do working from home that I can supplement my income, and bridge the gap between what I have coming in and what I have going out. At the moment I have more going out than I have coming in.

    Can you help me or direct me to someone who can help me with this problem?

    • Samantha@VA says:

      Mr. Larsen, as a Veteran with a VA service-connected disability rating, I encourage you to apply for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits. If found eligible for this program, you would be assigned a counselor who would work with you to develop an individualized plan to meet your strengths and personal circumstances. For more information and to apply online, please visit http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/.

  2. Nicholas Giraldo says:

    Not all VA Workstudy positions are at VA facilities and schools. I’m a Veterans Representative with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and we have VA Workstudy students helping veteran job seekers at our local workforce center offices across the state. In fact, I was a workstudy at the office where I am now a full time employee. If it weren’t for the VA Workstudy program, I would not be where I am today. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  3. Bill McNair says:

    I graduated at 62 with a masters in social work via Chapter 31 thanks in great measure to the VA Work Study program. I worked in the Executive Office of the Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic for three years. There, I made innumerable contacts for my future profession and while working a desk for the clinic Administrator, I got valuable experience dealing with troubled and distraught veterans who usually just need an empathetic human face on their side, or someone to talk with.

    The pay is tax-free which makes “minimum wage” more palatable so we were able to put food on the table and make our mortgage payments while I attended UT Arlington full time, graduating with a 3.985 GPA.

    The FWOPC realizes the value to the VHA by employing work studies wherever the respective student is a good fit. My deepest thanks to the FWOPC administrative leadership for their kind and patient support.

    Bill McNair, LMSW
    USMC 1967-71, Vietnam 1968-69.

  4. William (Bill) Elmore says:

    Good for Terry and the vets he works with, VA needs to un-constipate VA Work Study nationally and allow participants to work with veterans in any gov. managed program location, including SBA offices and partners, DOL sites, VSOs, etc. Work Study is (can be) a great opportunity creator for many vets and vet serving organizations. I started as a Work Study Vet in 1973 and went on to a great career in veterans services and programs outside the VA as did many of my peers. Please, VA, let it work and expand the vets helping vets synergy.

  5. J. Mori Omar says:

    I am a 38 year old disabled veteran whose GI Bill is no longer eligible. My work study application was returned even though I am a full time student on CH 31 benefits. How do I resubmit my work study application for the second time?

    • Alex Horton says:

      From the Veterans Benefits Administration:

      JMO, please contact us either on the GI Bill website at http://www.gibill.va.gov and click on the “submit a question” button to securely ask what’s going on and how to resubmit your application, or call 888-442-4551