Work study yields concern

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As many around campus have noticed, the incoming freshman class for the 2012-13 year is the largest incoming class in Pacific history. Of those students, 532 are reported to be receiving federal financial aid, including federal work-study eligibility. This large influx of students has had a direct impact on both the number of jobs and the types of jobs available to qualifying students.

Although the number of students applying for work-study jobs is higher than it has ever been, neither the financial aid budget nor the amount of work study available has increased. Rather, in many cases, it has actually decreased from the budget allotted last year.

“We don’t base admissions decisions on financial aid availability; rather, we determine how to award financial aid based on, among other things, how many new and continuing students will likely be enrolled. For 2012-13, we are actually receiving a smaller federal work-study allocation than we did in 2011-12,” said Mike Johnson, Director of Financial Aid.

The deficit in the federal work-study budget is already having an impact on how many jobs are available to students. Last year a total of 1,500 work-study jobs were processed by the Career Development Center throughout the year. With one month into school there have already been 900 processed work-study jobs for the 2012-13 year.

“Although we were notified of the large incoming class and have been preparing to help students in any way we can with approaching a job interview, both the department work-study budget and the community service work-study budget have stayed the same, which is tough. There might be a pretty big impact in the spring for students’ job searching. If I were a work study student I might be a little worried about it,” said Julie Burris, Work Study Coordinator.

There are still a number of work-study jobs available but the difference this year will be that the jobs will not always be a match for students, as the typical objective of work study is to be tailored to somewhat fit the students’ career interests. The majority of popular jobs have already been taken by returning students. This has caused an increasing number of students, particularly freshmen, to be using the Career Development Center for assistance in finding non-work-study jobs.

“What the numbers mean to the students is that they need to become more proactive in searching for jobs. We are here to help them but with so much competition they really need to go after these jobs more so than they have had to in the past,” said Burris.

The financial aid department is currently making additional funds available through the university to help bridge the gap. For students who still need to find a work-study job the Career Development Center is taking a more personalized approach in their services and encourages students to come work with them.

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