Students face challenges with work study funding

Cayla Jones, sophomore chemistry major, said she’s having issues finding another job while maintaining her work study position after its funds were taken away.

At first Jones was rewarded the money and the work study supervisor for the job called everyone. She then tried to get the paperwork together to start the position. When she was eligible, an email was sent out stating the money had been taken away.

The federal government provides approximately 75 percent of work study funding. Employing departments and off-campus agencies provide the rest, according to Student Financial Services.

However, the hourly rates students receive for their positions are determined by the university for the Federal Work Study program.

Level I Basic Support Functions $7.25-$7.45

  • no experience or general experience
  • minimal technical ability
  • minimal responsibility
  • general clerical duties

Level II Skilled Support Functions $7.46-$8.15

  • extensive experience
  • average to extensive technical ability
  • above average responsibility
  • highly specific skills required

Level III Advanced Support Functions $8.16-$9.00

  • highly extensive experience
  • highly advanced technical ability
  • above average responsibility
  • highly skilled duties

Level IV Community Service $9.01-$11.00

  • off-campus employment

Before being accepted into the program, Georgia State students must fill out human resources paperwork. After completing this task the department then must complete an Electronic Personnel Action Form (EPAF) which is similar to federal work-study forms, according to the Student Financial Services’ website.

The website also states students can be awarded up to $4,000 for fall and spring terms and will be paid $8.75 an hour specifically for Panther Work Study.

Belinda Lindsey, a customer services specialist for University Career Services, said work study has money allocated for it but cannot be replenished when it runs out.

“Even if you have work study and there’s no money there, you don’t have any money for the job. We still have jobs posted on the system that are for work study students only,” she said. “So what we suggest for students to do is check with enrollment services if there’s funding available for work study if they have money available under Panther Works.”

Student Kenaesha Carson said she tried to get a job through Georgia State’s work study and was upset with the process.

Carson said she feels that the people who really need the program are set aside because there are already people in work study who don’t have jobs or do not take advantages of the program’s opportunities.

These factors along with non-existant funding add to the issue of students not being able to obtain a job through the program, according to Carson.

She too was offered a job through the work study program but funding was already depleted, causing her not to start the position at all. She was told to keep checking the status but after a few months funding remained obsolete.

“I feel there needs to be a more organized, professional and proper way in which work study is offered,” she said.

Louis Scott, director of Financial Aid, said funds for work study are provided annually by the U.S. Department of Education and that students can request to be put on a waiting list.

“We typically have approximately 270 students on the federal work study program for the school year. Students can request to be put on waiting list if they are not given work study. This typically happens after the beginning of the Fall semester,” he said.

However, before students can be employed they must meet a specific criteria in order to be eligible for Panther Work.

  • Student must demonstrate financial need based on family financial information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the current year. All required forms and documents must be submitted on time; deadlines are established by the Georgia State University Financial Aid Office.
  • Student is a Georgia resident.
  • Student is enrolled at least half-time as an undergraduate student.
  • Student maintains satisfactory academic progress and is in good standing with the University.
  • Student is a citizen, immigrant, refugee or a permanent resident alien of the U.S.
  • Student must be Pell eligible.
  • Student is not a Hope/Zell Scholarship recipient.
  • Student is not on the Federal Work-Study Program.
  • Student is not on the Guaranteed Tuition Plan.

Student financial services regulates the program’s employed students who work an average of 10 hours a week, but they must not exceed more than 20. Federal Work Study and Panther Work pay these students strictly by the hour with enforced rules, according to the Student Financial Services website.

Those who are absent due to illness, holiday or other reasons will not be paid or credited for the missed time. These students are also not paid for meal breaks, according to the Student Financial Services website.

I hope in the future students will have notification that funds are running low long before they run out so I don’t waste my time applying for a job that I can’t keep due to the financial aid’s irresponsible behavior,” Carson said.