Embarking on a college degree is usually one of the first large milestones in a person’s life after graduating from high school. Unfortunately, going to college is also among the most expensive things you’ll do in this life.
Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you probably don’t already have a huge sum of money to get you through your education without having to ever worry about financial constraints. Like most students, the necessity to work while juggling a hectic college schedule is an everyday concern – here we present a reference guide of things to think, and some advice, on working a part-time job during college.
The Tax Situation
It’s one of the first questions students have: is paying income tax mandatory on any earnings while you’re a student?
Alas, it’s also a minefield of a question and not one we can fully cover here since federal laws concerning who pays tax (and how much they’re required to pay) rely on an exhaustive list of factors, including which state your college is based in, how many hours you’re working, to what extent you’re paying towards your tuition costs and even how much you’ve got in savings.
Given that the tax situation is so complex and really relies on the individual, there’s only one surefire way to get the answer you need: speak to the IRS direct. Their student resource page is a good place to start, but your local office should be able to give you more specific guidance, but your local office should be able to give you more specific guidance.
If You’ve Come to Study From Abroad…
The rules on taxation get even more complicated if you are a non-US resident both working and studying within America. The good news is that, generally speaking, you probably don’t need to pay tax in this scenario but again the list of exceptions and rules runs pretty long. Start out with this FAQ which is about as concise a guide as you’ll find on the topic.
Some Rules of Thumb to Bear in Mind:
– You must have an SSN (social security number) if you’re going to work while studying while in America. This is easy to arrange at the Social Security Office in your area.
– While every worker is required to have a social security, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay into medicare or social security.
– Regardless of whether you’re going to work a job, filing a 8843 form is a must. In addition, on starting at a new job your boss should supply you with a W-4 form – it’s easy to complete and will organize everything going forward if you do end up paying income tax.
– As mentioned, things vary from state to state so do make sure you factor this into your estimations.
Finding The Balance
Somewhat obviously, it’d be ill advised to have a job which eats up so much time that your studies suffer as a result. If you’re going to fail college after working so hard to pay for your tuition, you might as well drop out now and focus on working full-time!
Frankly speaking, most work which is geared towards students doesn’t pay fantastic rates. This makes it tempting to work above and beyond part-time hours just to make that next pay check a little more substantial.
Instead of trying to boost your income, create more disposable cash by reducing your outgoings wherever possible. Adopting a budgeting mindset and realizing that the next few years will have a massive effect on your finances for the rest of your life is essential; work out how much you can realistically live on a month (do factor in some ‘fun’ money, of course) and try to stick to that amount. If unexpected expenses land on your door in the mean time, cash advances at AAAPaydayCash are available rather than having to sacrificing lectures to work overtime.
Needless to say, pretty much everyone wants to work from home and students are no exception, especially since it often slots in well around a hectic study schedule. As a result, there are an awful lot of people competing for only a few positions, and many real jobs are overshadowed by a dirge of scams.
With regards to the latter, the good news is that the scam ‘jobs’ are very easy to spot. The old adage of “if it sounds too good to be true…” is entirely applicable here.
In terms of competition, there’s not much you can do about that except put your best foot forward – the further good news is, however, that if you can speak English as your native language and have a good education (you’re in college, after all) you’ll be ahead of 99% of the people applying for home-based work.
Where to find such work? Craigslist, oDesk and Gumtree are surprisingly good sources for genuine opportunities, as long as you don’t mind sifting through the rubbish to find the real gems. Avoid auction sites where you bid for work though, since more often than not you’ll end up working for way less than minimum wage in order to beat out the competition.
Mike, aka The Dividend Guy, authors The Dividend Guy Blog since 2010 and manages portfolios at Dividend Stocks Rock. He is a passionate investor.