As a full-time student at Santa Ana College, Sophomore criminal justice major AJ Mercado had been looking for a job closer to campus. Her commute to campus from Fountain Valley was challenging due to relying on public transit.
A friend recommended working on campus and Mercado found a position through the Federal Work Study Program, one of four ways you can find a job on campus.
“You’ll see a lot of familiar faces working here,” says AJ Mercado.
Students can find employment at Santa Ana College with the Federal Work Study Program, Cal Grant Work Study, hired directly by a SAC Department and the Learning Aligned Employment Program (LAEP).
Basic eligibility for these programs is being enrolled in a minimum of six units, having a clean academic record and acceptance to the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA).
Jobs range from clerical work, tutoring, cashiering to department-based duties. Student job placement is a branch of Financial Aid. Students can check their eligibility with the Job Placement Coordinator Denise Scolaro in building JSC-203, Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“I love giving people money,” says Scolaro.
Scolaro started out as a part-time employee in the financial aid office.
The Federal Work Study employment runs during the fall and spring semesters. Jobs listed on the Federal Work Study Program are subject to eligibility, and have to be in the FAFSA program to be accepted.
“Many Federal Work-Study students have become staff at Santa Ana College,” says Scolaro.
Scolaro hopes to hire at least 20 more students for the Federal Work Study Program before the semester is over. Since July close to 150 students have been hired and more positions are open.
“The Federal Work Study Program is a work to earn it program,” says Scolaro.
Some of the benefits of the Federal Work Study Program is not being taxed for Medicare and Social Security as you would in any other job. Right now, there are more jobs than students for federal work study due to the length of the process to determine eligibility.
Similar to the Federal Work Study is the Cal Grant Work Study Program. Pairing with the Cal Grant Work Study Program is the CalWORKs program where students with dependents can find job placement within Santa Ana College and essentially earn their Cal Grant. Santa Ana College provides a CalWORKs specialized counselor to help students navigate their placement.
The only drawbacks of the Cal Grant Work Study Program are only being able to work until you reach your Cal Grant limit. Students can go onto the career center site and check the online job board to see current and open jobs.
Sophomore Mikie Guerero is currently pursuing a degree in Entrepreneurship and has been working at the Academic Computer Center (ACC) since Spring of 2022 under the Cal Grant Program. His position at the front desk entails assisting students with checking into the ACC and helping with any computer issues.
“Working in the ACC is a big blessing for me,” said Guerrero.
Having a job on campus makes it easier for him to focus on his studies and position as the president of the SAC Lifting Club. Guerrero is very dedicated to health and fitness and wants to give access to more students on campus.
All SAC Departments hire employees directly and typically international students take these positions because they are more flexible. Department hires can work year-round as opposed to the Federal Work Study Program that only runs during the semester.
Middle College High School students are also eligible for Department paid positions with a work permit.
The newest addition to work study is the Learning Aligned Employment Program (LAEP), which started during the Summer of 2023. The LAEP program gives students the chance to gain experience in their career field.
Additionally, this state funded program was created to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students a chance to find employment on campus and potentially branch out to having a career with the city of Santa Ana. LAEP is similar to an internship and is currently opening job positions to media studies and the culinary program.
Ideally, Santa Ana College staff want students to either graduate or transfer to continue their educational and career goals. A list of people who prescreen eligible students based on the FAFSA. Academic status, enrollment, minimum GPA, completion rate are all elements that determine a student’s eligibility.
The process and paperwork were easy and fast for Mercado, she accepted a receptionist position at the Math Center and has loved the experience.
Mercado works Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and takes classes in between this schedule. She expressed that the position at the Math Center is very convenient and she loves working on campus.
“I want to stay here as long as I can,” said AJ Mercado.