Missing the mark with BullsEye
UB needs to provide more opportunities for students without work-study
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
UB students logging onto BullsEye to apply for on-campus jobs are bound to run into the same nagging qualification: “Must have work-study award letter.”
It’s an immediate dead end for students who don’t qualify, leaving them to fight for positions at Campus Dining and Shops. There should be more opportunities for students to work on-campus, especially if work-study positions go unclaimed.
The Federal Work-Study program is designed to provide students the opportunity to work on campus and earn money for personal expenses, according to the government website. Because it is a type of campus-based aid, eligibility is determined from FAFSA, and students who receive it must work to earn the money (typically around $1300 per semester) back.
Those students who qualify for work-study can seek the listed jobs and even have the opportunity to have more than one, but for whatever reason – getting adjusted to college life, too busy with schoolwork to have a job or perhaps they already have a job – many don’t take advantage of it. The ones who have the most need should obviously get first dibs at work-study jobs, but what about the jobs that have been sitting unclaimed? The oldest work-study position has been up on BullsEye since Sept. 2010. Many jobs have multi-year deadlines, and most have no other qualifications except to prove they are qualified for federal work-study.
To put into perspective the ratio of on-campus jobs, a quick search on UB Career Services for available jobs returns 70 current on-campus work-study positions; searching the part-time UB campus positions (non work-study, including graduate assistantships and resident assistantships) returns 10.
The ones who qualify for work-study are lucky, and the pros for the positions vastly outweigh the cons – no effect on financial aid eligibility, flexible hours, on-campus and as the name suggests, you can study while you work if you need to.
But each university has to apply annually to award work-study, and the amount the school is given is based on student need from the previous year. With limited funds available, only a portion of students with financial need receive work-study, so schools set their own cut-offs based on the funds they’re able to hand out.
Whatever UB decides as the cut-off is entirely up to the school, but either way it leaves many students who still need financial aid out in the cold because they were just above the line. You know – the students who are struggling but just aren’t struggling enough.
Seventy percent of UB students receive financial aid, and the ones who are that desperate for money are not going to be picky about where they work, especially if they have the convenience to go off-campus and pick up a food service job. But a lot of students came to campus without cars and without money. Busy schedules keep them from being able to work at off-campus jobs with steady shifts so flexible hours are needed.
In fact, there are many students who often choose to put their summer jobs on hold for education leave because they can’t balance their course load, studying and work schedules for failure to be in several places at once. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need the money. How convenient would it be if there were positions that existed in this world that allowed them to work and study at the same time.
It’s more than fair that the students with the most need get work-study jobs, but by limiting those positions only to a select bunch, qualified applicants get overlooked, even if the positions are never scooped up. Surely UB can stretch its budget a bit to give those who just missed the cut-off some opportunities, and it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to open up those jobs that have been sitting for a few months to other students.