Federal Work-Study policy limits students' hours

Graphic by Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig
Managing Editor

More work-study hours may help keep students’ wallets full this semester but a new employment guideline may limit the number of hours each student can work, said Nancy McGuire, director of career development. 

The policy only allows students 20 hours of on-and-off-campus work-study in a two-week pay period. With a work-study job, students are encouraged to deposit at least 25 percent of their wages into their account. However, there is a limit to how much money students can make through Federal Work-Study (FWS).

“Every student is only awarded so many dollars,” said McGuire. “So, if [students spend] that in the first six months of school, it’s going to be tough to pay the second half of school.” 

In the simplest of terms, FWS is a federally funded program that enables students with financial need to access employment dollars to pay for school, according to McGuire.

“So, if the student is earning [minimum wage], Briar Cliff actually pays part of that and then the federal government [pays] the other part of that,” said McGuire.

Not every student can be eligible for FWS. In order to access a work-study job, students must meet certain standards.

“[Students] need to have a certain grade point average, they have to be succeeding academically and they have to be progressing [in their job],” said McGuire.

Beth Grigsby, vice president of finance, said current work-study students must also maintain these standards and understand that being a student comes first.

“First and foremost, any student’s job is to be a student and to do well at that,” said Grigsby. “Students need to make satisfactory academic progress in order to maintain their job.”

In the end, it is up to the students if they want to participate in a work study job. It is also up to the individual student if he or she wants to use some of the earned wages to slowly pay off balances.

“Yes, we know that everyone needs ‘walking-around-money,’” said McGuire, “but it’s really in the students’ best interest to pay [their balances] down so that they are not staring at as much debt when graduation time comes.”

But what if students want that “walking-around-money?” Maybe those 20 work-study hours are not enough. Well, there are number of on-campus employment jobs available as well as off-campus positions not covered by FWS.

“Sometimes an off-campus job opportunity comes along and really helps fulfill [students’] education and gives them a taste of the career they are working towards,” said Grigsby.

The FWS policy may restrain some students’ spending habits but McGuire says working more than 20 hours every two weeks may be pushing it too far for some people.

“Students almost do better academically if they are working ten to 15 hours somewhere,” said McGuire. “That ten to 15 seems to be the magic... But anything over 20? Forget it.”


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Submitted by braunschweigc on Tue, 10/09/2012 - 18:49

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