Student jobs on the line in proposed cuts to work-study

The University could be forced to trim its openings.

Cali Owings

For students like first year Paige Vangsness, work-study earnings help keep the electricity on, put food on the table and cover the cost of books.
About 12 hours a week finding materials in the Wilson Library and copying them for customers is enough to ensure Vangsness receives the full amount of her work-study award throughout the year.
But Gov. Mark DaytonâÄôs proposed budget would eliminate about a third of the state funding for work-study jobs.
At the University of Minnesota, that would mean about 200 fewer students would receive work-study.
If the proposed budget is passed, cash-strapped University departments will either have to pay workers out of their own budgets or cut student positions.
Work-study students might be preferred to other similarly qualified candidates because of budget restrictions.
Susan E. Cable-Morrison, the human resources manager for student employment at the University, said departments have to pay only 30 percent of the wages for work-study students.
She said itâÄôs a win-win situation for students and employers because students donâÄôt have to report work-study income on their Federal Application for Student Financial Aid, and employers can spend less on wages or can hire more help.
Even with potentially fewer work-study positions, Cable-Morrison said she was unsure if there will be fewer jobs available, since departments still need to hire.
But it might be more competitive for students to get popular on-campus jobs.
Cable-Morrison said she has noticed a decrease in student employment positions overall since the economy nosedived in 2008.
In the last two years, incoming students have indicated that finding a job was their top priority, Cable-Morrison said, citing an admissions office survey.
When first-year graduate student Xiaofan Wu applied to work with University Dining Services in the fall, he said the process was relatively easy, consisting of an informal interview at the UDS human resources department. But the process was revamped before spring semester. Wu said he had to submit an application and résumé before getting rehired to swipe U Cards at the entrance to Comstock Dining Hall.
As an international graduate student, Wu said he doesnâÄôt receive work-study. He said it might be difficult for him to move out of UDS next year and into a front desk or laboratory position where he can interact with more people.
Mark Desrosiers, a Wilson Library assistant who oversees hiring at the copy center, said his department prefers to hire work-study students for budgeting reasons, though its positions are not restricted to work-study employees.
âÄúIf there are two equally qualified candidates for a position, I would probably choose the work-study student,âÄù Desrosiers said.
The decrease in state work-study funds will significantly impact nonprofit organizations that rely on students for off-campus work-study programs.
Like University departments, community organizations score a good deal when they hire work-study students. Cable-Morrison said the program covers 75 percent of the wages, while community organizations provide the remainder.
On the University employment website, the majority of postings seeking work-study students come from community organizations like the Y-Tutors, a tutoring program run through the YMCA.
Tom Nieman, with the Southwest Community Education Program, which offers a variety of activities for all ages, said the potential impact could be âÄúdevastating.âÄù
Though Nieman said he did not know which of his eight to 10 work-study students relied on the state program, he said any changes to work-study could affect the quality of the programs for the community.
Students who complete the FASFA on time and indicate they would like to receive work-study are at an advantage.