Proposed cut of Federal Work Study concerns students
April 18, 2017
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In President Donald Trump’s most recent budget proposal, the Federal Work Study (FWS) Program is projected to be cut in order to save funds. In the United States, more than half a million students depend on the program, and at Point Park, 240 are enrolled, according to student employment coordinator Joan Dristas.
“I think that it [FWS] helps them [students] in the real world because they can be networking because so many people that come into our office are from the professional world,” school of business FWS Program Supervisor Ashley Dobransky said. “And having them be the first face that they see, the students can start making that connection with them early.”
Dobransky supervises work-study students at the school of business. Her department hires five students every year and has them help with organizing files and being secretaries in the office.
Due to her hectic class schedule, sophomore Emily Rogers depends on her federal work-study job as a library aid to afford food.
Rogers deals with checking books out, resolving student fines and working with concerns of the students. She depends on her paycheck of roughly $300 per month to assist her with groceries and other necessities.
“The job is showing me how to work in a professional environment with other undergraduates and graduate students,” Rogers said.
Sophomore creative writing major Savannah Kozar would be unable to pay her phone bill or buy groceries if not for her job as a desk attendant the Student Center.
Kozar spends her shifts renting out gym equipment to students, making sure they use equipment safely, and in her spare time works on homework. Without the FWS Program, Kozar fears she may not be able to afford some bare essentials that a young adult needs. Her cell phone and groceries are two items she says would be devastating to lose if she could not afford them. Without her job from the program, Kozar says she is scared of not having any way to make ends meet.
“I’d be living under a bridge,” Kozar said. “I wouldn’t have any money.”
Kozar enjoys her job and likes being able to study during her down-time, whereas she would not be able if she were employed at a restaurant or retail store.
Freshman animation major and student-athlete Jessica Kavelish would not have any money for food or time to do her homework if it was not for her job as an office attendant in the Career Development Center.
Kavelish is always busy during the school week. Classes, practice and work have her running all over Point Park’s campus, and she says that her work-study is the easiest and least stressful part of her day.
“The work-study is one of the least stressful things in my day, because while I’m at work I can think about what I need to do for homework and organize what I need to do,” Kavelish said.
As a member of the women’s soccer team and a student who is far from home, Kavelish uses her paycheck to pay for food and miscellaneous items she needs. Before she started college, she says she was unaware of how much she would actually need to buy in order to survive away from home.
Point Park has 44 locations on campus for students to work at and four locations off-campus. YMCA, YWCA, American Red Cross and MCG Jazz offer jobs for students to acquire if they wish to work off of campus.
Most students at Point Park are given a maximum of 11 hours a week to work, a number that varies depending on the amount of financial aid that the student receives.
Students are allowed to split their hours between two different departments within a program. According to Dristas, there are currently 38 students who have more than one position at Point Park within either FWS or the apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program is not in danger of being cut, as it is funded by the schools themselves.
The effects of cutting the FWS Program would be felt campus-wide and would have a massive impact on the staff at Point Park. There would be no student library attendants, office secretaries, equipment assistants or student IT help. The university would depend on an understaffed force who would need to handle all of the office work as well as the actual assistance of students.
United States taxpayers currently contribute an average of $1.1 billion each year for the FWS Program to operate. In the United States, an estimated 670,00 students are employed part-time by their university. While Point Park’s FWS Program students make up less than one percent of that number, their jobs still help them gain experience in a professional setting.
As details are still being speculated, Trump’s initial plan called for “significantly” reducing the program as well as reforming the system. In recent years, the program has gone under fire as critics feel the program is poorly designed.
“I would love to be able to give them more hours because some of them are so hungry to actually work, especially my work-studies because some of them want to learn a little more when we ask them to put together poster or graphics and flyers,” Dobransky said.
The FWS Program provides colleges and universities with funds to pay the checks of students in the program. This means that Point Park University doesn’t actually pay the FWS Program employees, but the federal government does.
According to a study done by the Center for Analysis of Post-Secondary Education and Employment, students who held a work study job are more likely to find a job after graduation. Many positions at Point Park offer work in fields students intend to pursue after school.
“I got the job when I was checking out film gear,” freshman cinema production student D’aura Ponton said. “I actually get experience with something I like rather than working somewhere downtown.”
Students can find the FWS Program to be more appealing because of the ability to schedule work shifts around classes and sports. Employers at Point Park work with their students to make sure that they do not have to skip class or rush to work.
With President Trump’s plan under scrutiny and not making much progress in Congress, it is unclear whether or not the program is doomed. If cut, the lives of college students not only at Point Park, but across the country, could be impacted.