Giving Compass' Take:

James Paterson, writing for Education Dive explores the challenges with work-study programs in college and the attempts to address the current issues.

Work-study programs should be helping students gain skills that will help them with career development, yet many programs are falling short. Can educators and students work together to ameliorate programs?

Read more about how students could get more from work-study jobs.

A familiar chunk of financial aid, work-study has for years slid job-hungry students into easy-to-learn and fluid positions that colleges might otherwise struggle to fill, especially so inexpensively. It even sometimes bridges the gap with the business community or encourages students to connect with the people who make their college work. And in many cases, the federal or state government foots at least half the bill.

But new research from several quarters suggests the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program's cranky, decades-old funding formula is unfair and unworkable, and that students should get more out of the experience than they currently do.

Some question whether FWS jobs actually go to students with the greatest need, and critics of the program contend those hour- and salary-restricted positions often don't pay enough. Those problems are often true of non-FWS campus jobs, too, contributing to a broad push to add value to the types of employment colleges offer students.

A report last year from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) notes that seven in 10 college students work at least 15 hours per week, and one in four work more than 35 hours.

What's more, low-income students are more likely to work longer hours and in jobs unrelated to their professional goals or academic studies, and critics say FWS doesn't do enough to provide them with a more focused alternative even though that's its stated objective.

Another common criticism of FWS is that the positions it offers often aren't related to students' academic interests, don't challenge them or offer new training, and generally miss an opportunity for career development.

Read the full article about work-study programs by James Paterson at Education Dive.