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With average tuition and fees topping out at almost $10,000 for an in-state student at a four-year public college in 2017-18 and nearly $26,000 for an out-of-state student, it's more important than ever for students to explore ways to pay for higher education. That's why I knew that when I started applying to undergraduate schools in 2013, finding a college that would allow me to save on tuition through a work-study program would play a big part of where I ultimately ended up attending.

In the end, William Paterson University of New Jersey (WPUNJ) in Wayne, New Jersey, cost me approximately $75,000 total to attend. I covered 15 percent of that with grants, and shaved an additional $8,000 off through my work-study program.

While I had always known about scholarships, grants and student loans as a way to help pay for school, when I learned about work-study through my high school counselor and my own research, I knew right away that I was interested. Federal work-study is a need-based program that helps students by offering part-time jobs to help cover education expenses. Those jobs can be either on campus for the school, which mine was, or off campus, usually with a private, nonprofit organization. Applying for the program was as easy as filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and checking the box that said I was interested in participating in work-study.

When I found out I had been accepted to the work-study program at WPUNJ, I decided to attend school there. I had a cousin who had recently graduated with a master's and her brother would also be attending at the same time as me, which was also a major factor in my picking the school. It was nice to go to school with family and have two dorm rooms to hang out in. It was also just an attractive school to me, in general, and not too expensive when compared to the other New Jersey state universities.

Once I was officially attending WPUNJ, I had to seek job placement on campus. I ended up working for the campus ministry's TV show and newspaper, which was my first job choice, and one of the higher paying jobs available on campus. I worked about 20 hours a week for four straight semesters. I ultimately went with this gig because of the pay and the flexibility it provided. I started at $10 per hour and I got a raise up to $12 per hour because I used my own car to deliver the school newspaper around campus. Since it was a campus job, they understood that academics came first, and I was able to set my hours around my school schedule. Having this job never interfered with my course work, which was essential. The job also entailed building sets and backgrounds for the shows, which I really enjoyed. While the job didn't directly help me with my career after graduation, I can say that gaining work experience and acquiring time management and people skills while in school was good for me, as it likely would be for anyone.

Having gone through a work-study program in college, I believe it was a good way to cut down on the cost of getting an education. I would recommend getting a degree this way to any eligible student, as long as they think they can take on the added workload and the pressures that can come with having a job and being in school. Saving through a work-study program not only reduces how much you have to borrow, but it could also cut back on future work that students might have to pick up to help pay down their debts.

By Vickens Moscova, as told to Cheryl Lock. Vickens, 25, is a social media strategist, manager and influencer at his own company, Moscova Marketing. He earned a Bachelor of Science in 2017 in global business from William Paterson University of New Jersey.

FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

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