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Just as there are only two types of student loans there are only two types of jobs – on-campus and off-campus. There are pros and cons to both of these. One of the most popular of the on-campus jobs is those available through the Federal Work-Study Program. Unfortunately, this is also a needs-based program, as you would have to demonstrate a financial need, be enrolled in a degree program and maintain satisfactory academic process. The downside of an on-campus job like this is that with some schools the money you earn automatically goes towards your tuition fees. In others you'll receive a paycheck just as if you worked off-campus. You could then use the money to pay the interest on your loans and to help with your living expenses.
The advantages of an on-campus job
One of the biggest advantages of an on-campus job is that if you go to a relatively small school you should be able to just walk from class to your job. In addition, it's usually fairly easy to get an on-campus job. This can make it a lot easier to work 15 or even 20 hours per week. Plus, you might be able to get a job where you would work a couple of hours per day between classes instead of a four or eight hour shift at an off-campus job.
The pros and cons of an off-campus job
If you go to school in an urban area there is practically an unlimited number of possibilities for a job. You could work in a restaurant or clothing store or for a doctor or lawyer as an office assistant. For that matter, you could even create your own job by mowing lawns, babysitting or running errands. With all of these different options available, it's likely you would be able to earn more than with an on-campus job. And you can use the money anyway you please instead of it automatically going to pay for part of your tuition.
An off-campus job can also be very good work experience. These jobs give you better exposure to the "real world" than working in your school's library or some other on-campus job. If you were able to get a job working retail or as an office assistant this would look very good on your resume. You could also look for jobs that would be more related to your career when you graduate.
The biggest downside of an off-campus job is that transportation could be a problem. You would need to have a reliable ride, good public transportation or a car to get to that job. The cost of getting to and from your job could quickly reduce the amount of money you would get by working off-campus. In addition, you would probably be required to work a full four or eight-hour shift and you could find it hard to successfully juggle your classes and those shifts.
So which would be better?
The answer to this question is some "depends." It will depend on whether or not you feel the convenience of working on-campus outweighs the additional income you would earn working off-campus. It may also depend on whether you would be able to get that perfect off-campus job that would be a boost to your career and would make sacrificing your social life worthwhile. Of course, there's nothing that says you couldn't do both at the same time or both off and on. The important thing is to weigh your options and make sure that whatever choice you make will help you earn your degree and ultimately start a career.