Work Study Positions: Available, Underutilized


Melanie Quintanilla, Editor-in-Chief

Fewer students are filling work study positions this year, and officials are working to increase the number of students who work on campus.

This semester, 464 students are in work study jobs – 101 fewer than the 565 students on the work study payroll during the 2015-16 academic year, said Stephanie Winsock, Student Employment Coordinator.

However,  total work study payroll over the last four years has increased 37 percent.

Winsock said 864 students qualified for federal work study in the current academic year, and  additional students will be hired for jobs duringthe spring semester.

Work study jobs enable students to work on campus and earn money to cover a portion of educational expenses.

To be eligible for a federal work study position, students  must be  full-time undergraduate students and meet the federal need guidelines for financial aid.   Eligible students are notified prior to the  school year when they receive their “Financial Aid Award Letter” packet. If a work study award appears on this  letter, the student met the financial criteria for participation in the program. Students need to keep in mind that this does not guarantee that they will receive a job, Winsock said.

There is no set number of work study jobs that are offered because each department and supervisor is allotted hours, which can be distributed among workers. Each student is permitted to work eight hours each week.

Students who qualify must apply for positions.

“Two weeks prior to the start of the academic year, all students who qualify for federal work study awards are given directions via email as to how to apply for the available positions,” said Winsock.

This email includes step-by-step instructions about how to find openings and how to apply to them.

Despite this process, some students say they are unaware if they qualify for a work study job.

Lori Brennan, junior early childhood and special education major, has had  a work study position since her first year. Brennan said she wasn’t sure whether or not she was eligible.

“I applied for a job and hoped for the best,” she said.

Senior occupational therapy major Maura Chiumento said she learned about work study jobs from her older sister who once had one in college.

“I think students are unaware about available work study jobs because they do not know if they qualify, or they may not be able to find the link with all of the job listings,” said Chiumento.

Brennan said that she found her current work study job as Desk Assistant in the Anderson Sports and Health Center gym during her first-year orientation. Brennan does not recall another time when she was informed about obtaining a work study job.

Winsock said that not only does she send emails to eligible students, but she also posts job listings on the portal, which is where students who are unaware of their eligibility or work study can easily find out.

“All students have to do is log into myMU, click on the ‘Students’ tab, click on ‘Accounts’ and “Financial Aid’ on the left side, and then click on ‘Financial Aid Rewards’ at the top right,” she said.

Winsock said any students who are still unsure about their eligibility, or have any  questions regarding work study, are free to call her office number (570) 674 6701.

“I believe that students do not know about work study jobs because they do not look at the announcements on the myMU portal that often,” said Brennan.

Brennan said she sees the notices.

“I sort of think that the jobs are publicized well, but I only ever see it on the home page of myMU. I have never heard people talking about it. Plus, when I tell people about work study most of the time they do not know what I am talking about,” said Brennan.

Chiumento said the jobs are thoroughly publicized.

“I feel like they’re easy to find. There is a link on the myMU portal with a list of openings for work studies on campus, which makes applying for them easy.”

Winsock said students looking for available positions can log in to myMU, select the “Student” tab, and select “Student Employment” to review the student job site. The job details willt state whether  the position restricted to federal work study.

The university tries to fill all open positions with the students who are in need, but if eligible students don’t fill positions, they are open to all.

Many jobs are available to students who do not qualify for work study, tutors, admission ambassadors, lab assistants, and even Cougar Connect, which used to be known as the university Phon-a-thon.

Many work study jobs are currently available. There are also already job openings for the spring semester, so that students can  get a head start and see if they are any jobs that best suits them.