Work-study employment falters on campus


Lindsay Freed

CAT Pause is one of the many places on campus in need work-study employees. As of Oct. 4, there are over 60 open work-study positions, according to UVM student employment website.

Lee Hughes, Assistant News Editor

All across campus, the lack of work-study employees is being noticed.

From 2013 to 2017 the number of students accepting their work-study awards had been decreasing, and only this year it has begun to increase, Student Employment Coordinator Mary McClements said.

“I don’t really have the numbers so I’m just going off of scenarios about what people have said over the past couple of years,” McClements said. “It’s pretty typical that certain jobs are not being filled, but I think [academic work-study employment] has gone up the past couple of years.”

UVM academic departments add more work-study positions every year to account for funding cuts, McClements said.

“Traditional work-study jobs like those at CAT Pause jobs might not be [filled] because students are saying, ‘I can have a research job or a lab technician job that I can use my work-study award towards,’” she said.

This trend of understaffed work-study positions has been going on for multiple years, she said.

McClements attributed this to the recent increase in maximum financial aid, she said.

Junior Bernadette Higgs said she spent several weeks trying to get a package that had been delivered at the Living/Learning Center mail room, where there was a sign up that warned of understaffing.

“I kept going to pick it up and they couldn’t find it for like two weeks after they had told me it was delivered,” she said. “Multiple times then I went to see if they were open at 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and they were closed.”

Higgs went at those times because there were signs saying the mail room would be open, she said.

Although University Heights North’s front desk was able to fill all of its work-study positions, it took them longer than usual, senior Dakota Dione said.

When the front desk was understaffed, Dione had to come in early at times and there were many times it was closed due to understaffing, she said.

“I came in for a couple shifts earlier than I officially signed up for just to cover the front desk, but the front desk was closed a lot of the time,” she said.

Other buildings are still looking for enough people to fully staff their front desks, Dione said.

As of the last academic year, the maximum award UVM gives for work-study positions increased from $1,600 to $1,800, said Emily Tupper, federal work-study coordinator at UVM.

Overall, she is not sure of any trends of increased or decreased work-study acceptance amongst students, Tupper said.

“Different things are looked at in a financial aid package to see if a student is eligible for work-study,” she said. “There may be changes in the financial aid process and the amount the financial aid office looks at to warrant providing federal work-study.”

As of Oct. 1, students who have not already gotten a work-study job lose their award unless they have contacted student financial services to reserve their spring award, Tupper said.

If they have already accepted a job they may get up to two additional jobs, however the majority of work-study hiring occurs before students get to campus, she said.

There are no easy fixes for employers who do not fill all of their positions by Oct. 1, as their budgets for the year are already set, McClements said.

As of Oct. 4 there are over 60 open work-study positions on campus, according to the UVM student employment website.