Students will work for education
November 30, 2006
With tuition rising annually, students have few options for paying the semester bills that don’t involve a loan with a hefty interest rate. The price of an education is paid by some while attending school, and UWRF has various job opportunities available for those looking to beef up their pocketbooks.
For the 2006-2007 school year, the cost of tuition, housing, a meal plan and other fees is about $12,000 for fall and spring semesters combined. Students who just pay tuition and other miscellaneous required fees see a price tag of just a little more than $3,000 per semester.
Many students opt to work at off- or on-campus jobs to pay for the next semester’s bill or other living expenses, such as a car payment, rent, food and school supplies.
Student Kasie Garcia works both on- and an off-campus jobs. Here, she spends some days working at the Information Desk of the Student Center, where she works four days or about 12 hours a week.
She said she uses some of the money she receives from her jobs to pay for tuition, but also has loans and grants for financial relief.
“It is very flexible,” she said of the position. “It works great with my school schedule and other things.”
Garcia, a junior majoring in international studies, said the Information Desk gig is her first on-campus job. She applied for the position to save money on gas by commuting less frequently to her other job.
Garcia is just one of about 1,100 students who were paid through the University for on-campus work, according to the Nov. 5-18 payroll. For the Oct. 22 through Nov. 4 pay period, 958 students were compensated.
The amount a student is paid on campus depends on the position, how long an individual has worked in a certain position and the duties they perform.
According to the Student Classification and Wage Scale from Human Resources, there are five different levels of classification for employment at UWRF, ranging from level one to paraprofessional. The amounts of hourly pay in these levels begins as low as $6.50 per hour and go as high as $16.35, with the average being about $7 to $7.50 an hour on campus.
A level one job requires no experience or previous training. These positions often include office assistants, sales clerks, library assistants, graders and textbook worker.
Like many other UW-System universities, UWRF offers work study funding through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to students who qualify for $800 per semester, said Sandra Oftedahl, director of Financial Assistance.
If there is a need for financial assistance, any eligible student who asks for work study on their FAFSA receives $1,600 for the entire school year. The money is given to UWRF to pay a student to work wherever a job is available, Oftedahl said.
“The University really likes to hire work study students because the federal government is paying for their wages,” she said.
Because UWRF is a state-owned university, departments supplying jobs to students only have to pay 65 cents of the $6.50 minimum wage, which is the lowest required hourly pay an employer must give an employee, Oftedahl said.
“This allows students to get the work experience at a low cost for the University,” she said.
The amount of work study given to a student is not based on what a student owes for tuition, but it can be used to pay off any costs of their educational bill, Oftedahl said. The $1,600 is a base amount given to all students who receive the federal financial funding, which has not changed over the past few years.
“The amount of funding from the federal government has not changed, which is a vastly under-funded trend,” she said.
For the 2005-06 school year, the federal government had nearly $1 billion in the budget for work study alone. UWRF received $451,812.
If $500 million more was added to the fund, all the universities, schools and colleges in the country would receive the maximum amount of work study asked for.
About 588 students receive federal work study funding for the 2006-07 academic year, and previous years showed the similar numbers.
If students do not have work study, they can still work on campus, as every department gets a certain amount of money specifically allocated to pay for employee wages.
With or without the federal funding, students working on campus have many of the same opportunities as any place of employment, like receiving a hard-earned paycheck.
Student Hansi Swanson, who works at the bookstore, doesn’t currently have work study funding, but did in the past.
She said the conveniences of working on campus are limitless, like not needing to own a car because she can walk to campus and her job from her apartment.
“The hours are student friendly,” said Swanson, a senior majoring in elementary education. “I don’t have to travel far, and I don’t have to work late hours.”