Every semester, students who received work-study on their financial aid award letter come to Student Financial Services and don’t know where to start.
SFS receives $3 million in federal grants every year to fund on- and off-campus work-study programs, Director of Student Financial Services Craig Fennell said. The federal government funds 75 percent of the students’ work, and the employer funds the other 25 percent.
“For a school our size, we could use a lot more [funding], but it’s a federally funded, congressionally funded formula that funds the school, and we can’t change that,” Fennell said.
Last year, more than 2,000 students participated in a work-study, Fennell said.
Confusion often begins when students are applying for on-campus work-study jobs. Although SFS funds all on- and off-campus jobs, SFS only controls the off-campus ones.
“We don’t control the jobs for on-campus [work study] and a lot of people think we do,” said Sandra Mejia, associate director of SFS.
Departments and colleges post student work-study jobs on Temple’s career website. From there, if a student is hired to a position, the Human Resources department is made aware that the student has accepted a work-study award and the student can begin to earn money toward their award total.
Students might also encounter confusion if they attempt to use their work-study award too late.
“Students will wait a few weeks or a few months, and then they’ll come in and say, ‘Hey I’m ready for my job,’” Fennell said. “But all the jobs are gone.”
Off-campus work-study positions are all at nonprofit organizations. Mejia said students could use their work-study grants at organizations like the Salvation Army or the Free Library of Philadelphia.
But not all schools and colleges at Temple require students to receive work-study to work on-campus, Mejia said.
“A lot of them will hire a regular student worker and pay them one hundred percent out of their budget,” she said.
At the end of October, SFS began retracting unused or unaccepted work-study awards from students to ensure the grants are being used. This gave students about two months since the beginning of the semester to find a work-study job. If a student sees this occur and still wants to pursue a work-study job, the student can meet with a SFS representative to have it reinstated, Mejia said.
Students receiving work study can only work enough hours to match their aid. For example, if a student receives $500 a semester for work-study and an employer will pay them $10 an hour, the student can only work 50 hours during the semester.
Students who are in work-study positions also have the opportunity to ask for an increase once a semester, Mejia said.
Several on- and off-campus work-study jobs are still available on Temple’s career website.
“It’s all about educating students about work study,” Mejia said. “They see it on their award, but when the students come in and meet with us and we explain, ‘Hey, this is what you could do,’ ‘Hey, you didn’t find an on-campus position, would you be interested in an off-campus one?’”
“We manage the overall program, so we don’t want to leave a lot of unused [work study grants] out there,” Fennell said. “We’re trying to manage it and hit the budget and have as many happy people as possible.”
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @gill_mcgoldrick.