The university needs to take action about the work-study program ending

Written By Kylie Thomas, Co-Feats/A&E Editor

“Don’t worry, work-study will help you while you’re in college.” That was a phrase I heard again and again throughout high school and college. Don’t get me wrong, my work-study job did help with tuition expenses as well as everyday life expenses while providing a flexible schedule. That was until for the first time in my four years at college my work-study was cut.


Students learned during early February that the work-study program would be cut short due to a decrease in funds, a decision that rocked the world of many college students who rely on that job for their income, like me. The cut could happen at any time now that it’s past mid-March and no one has any idea when it could occur. Though it is confirmed that by April 8 the program will be ended as funds are exhausted. 


There’s a lot to unpack here, especially as someone who has taken part in work-study since my freshman year. I obtained a work-study job in the Department of Alumni Engagement and Giving as a phonathon caller. What sounded like a silly job was actually crucial to the success of Point Park. My job was to contact alumni and other persons associated with the school to obtain donations for the student fund that pays for student activities, help for low income students, events, sports teams, and so much more. In my first year I had gained over $10,000 in donations for the school. Not only did my job benefit the school but it helped me generate enough income to pay my phone bill and other necessities. 


Over time I switched from the alumni office to Student Production Services (SPS). SPS is the home of all the video, photography, and audio equipment available to students to rent out. While some students in majors like business will never step foot into SPS, others like cinema and communications will live at SPS with how much equipment they take out for classes. 


I can easily say without the staff to run SPS, I would not be able to complete most of the classes I’ve taken for my major of multimedia. Not everyone has the money to buy their own camera for photography courses and SPS is a great resource to rent cameras for free. So, between the two jobs I’ve had on campus, I’d say both are pretty integral to the university. 


But ending the program goes far beyond affecting the function of the university. It also directly affects the students who rely on work-study money promised in their financial aid package. During my time as a work-study student, I’ve had to use my paycheck to help support my parents during times of need. Due to unfortunate circumstances, my parents were not receiving any income and I had become the sole supporter of my family. Without that pay, I wouldn’t have been able to help my parents pay our bills to keep the electricity and water on. 


I’m sure there are many other students in difficult situations like mine who rely on that bi-weekly pay to keep going. We are adults and work-study is the best option for us since we’re guaranteed a certain amount of pay and have a boss who understands our need for flexible hours. Plus, since we didn’t find out until February, it would be too hard to find an employer downtown who wants to hire a student for two months till the school year is over. And frankly, we shouldn’t be expected to find another source of income when work-study was supposed to be assured. 


I’m calling on Point Park to make a change for their students in need. The department that I work for has already scraped from their personal budget to provide income for SPS, Media Services, and IT workers for the rest of the year. If my department can find the funds to help students, so can an entire university.