Federal Work Study Program to end between March 19 and April 1

Written By Erin Yudt, Editor-Elect

On Monday morning, Federal-Work-Study (FWS) students received an email from Human Resources stating that their hours will be reduced to five hours per week until the program ends between March 19 and April 1. Students are also prohibited from working during the spring break.


Previously, the university cut work study hours to eight to 10 per week due to “heavy budget constraints.” There are currently around 150 students employed by the FWS program.


Ashley Bruder, human resources and FWS coordinator, said that normal measures during smaller federal government budgets were “not enough” this year.


“In circumstances where the budget usage is high in any semester, measures are taken to manage that usage, for example, by limiting work during holiday or semester breaks,” Bruder wrote in a statement to the Globe. “Limiting this usage enables the budget dollars to be stretched further into the semester. Because the FWS budget allocation was less this year than in previous years, these measures were not enough to avoid the FWS budget being exhausted before the end of the semester.”


Bruder did not answer how offices and programs with work study students will continue for the last three weeks of the semester once the work study program ends.


As to why this announcement is being made now, university spokesperson Lou Corsaro said that the federal funds “evolve” during a semester. 


“The simplest explanation is that available hours are estimated based on the money available, and those estimations evolve through a given semester,” Corsaro wrote in a statement to The Globe.


Keely Sapienza, coordinator of student involvement, was allocated five work study positions this year, with eight hours each, and is “currently assessing what the next steps will be to fulfill” the needs of their work study students. 


Senior psychology major Nanina Grund, who has been working for the FWS program for three years, is “just frustrated” about this huge cut. 


Grund, who spent the past two years working in the SAIL office, used to be able to work up to 20 hours a week but with the hourly rate being increased to $12 this year she only works about eight hours a week. Previously, when they were getting paid $8.25, she was able to work two work-study jobs.


“A lot of these offices [with work study students] are understaffed as is; the SAIL office has one person there for an hour on Fridays,” Grund said. “I’m the only one staffing the office from 10-2 both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cutting everyone’s hours makes it truly impossible to run, except the Admissions Office, given they have special privileges that no one else can receive.”


As a senior, Grund has concerns about how she will support herself until the end of the semester.


“I don’t have a meal plan on campus so all my money will just be bills, and I won’t have a way to eat,” Grund said. “Even if I do find another job, no one is going to hire me for a month and a half making it truly impossible for me to support myself… I’m just tired and scared because I don’t have a means of living anymore. I would like some sort of answers to at least comprehend this occurring. I apparently need to put my focus into finding another job now to support myself because my office wasn’t deemed as worthy to get full employment like others.”


Mason Hedge, a junior theater arts major, works in the Admissions Office as an assistant and tour guide for about nine hours per week. Hedge received an email saying admissions is “not affected by this announcement” and is “working through the semester as intended.”


Hedge is “grateful” that his work study is not affected.


“This just seems like the money wasn’t budgeted correctly,” Hedge said. “The email we received stated that this wouldn’t happen again in the future, which tells me that this is their issue, not ours. So yet again, it just looks like we have to pay for Point Park’s mistakes. Also, at the beginning of the school year, we were told that the pay was going to go up, but the hours were going to go down. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people tried to pin it on that, but I think there’s something else going on that we don’t know about.”


Grund used to work in Admissions and feels that the office “doesn’t deserve the only priority on campus” and is confused about where the funding for the work study program went.


“I truly can’t wrap my head around the fact that increasing the pay to $12 instead of $8.25 being the reason that it’s all drained so quickly,” Grund said. “Considering a year ago I was able to work 20 hours and be able to have more money on a paycheck by doubling what I’m getting with eight hours.”


Sophomore forensic science major Brooke Gilman works about eight hours a week in the library for her work study. The cuts will cause her  to “limit budgeting for food and other supplies.”  Gilman also expressed confusion as to how the budget was being managed. 


“I am not sure if they did it properly,” Gilman said. “They were aware of the smaller funds, yet did not enforce work study to follow straight hours and let more people in.”


However, Gilman feels that this issue could be “out of their control.”


“If the Admissions Office were to go down to 5 hours a week and stop working in April, there would be way more challenges than necessary,” Hedge said. “For me, this is my only job I have during the semester. If I were to stop working in April, I’d have no income for that entire month, which in hindsight isn’t a lot, but still affects my personal financial situation greatly. Also, FWS works around your school schedule. It’s harder to pick up other jobs because you don’t get that kind of leniency elsewhere than here.”


Hedge also defended the need for the office to stay open amidst these changes.


“The Admissions Office is responsible for bringing new students to campus,” Hedge said. “The students help run all of the outreach events and tours that we do to get people interested in our school. So, if we were to stop working in April, one of our events would have no student workers, and there’d be no one but the admissions counselors to give the tours. In general, things would go pretty wrong pretty fast.”


Bruder said that the tentative budget for the 2023-24 academic year was “increased” and that the school does not “anticipate this to be an issue for the next year.”