University cuts work study positions by nearly 50 percent

For years, students have relied upon the Work Study program to provide them with help paying for college and with a job during the semester. Traditionally, the Work Study program employs 800-900 students. This year, however, the number has been cut to 488.”We awarded fewer students this year due to the fact that students last year earned almost twice what they had earned in the past,” said Adriane King, Assistant Director of Financial Aid. “I believe this is probably due to economic conditions – and it being more difficult for students to find jobs off campus.”

The Federal Work Study program is a self-help federal aid program. Students are awarded the opportunity to take part in the program based on information submitted through their FAFSA. Once a student is deemed eligible, he or she is notified and given 14 days to respond. If no response is received, the notification rolls over to the next eligible applicant.

According to Carmelita Hill, work study coordinator, by the first week of funding being disbursement this year, the funds had already been depleted.

“It has affected me tremendously,” said Josh Rankin, current Tech student. “I feel stressed that I won’t have enough savings to pay for rent, utilities, gas. My cost of living goes down because I can’t purchase all the things that I want for my apartment, vehicle, or myself.”

Not only does not receiving the work study opportunity affect students, it affects the departments as well.

“If we did not have the extra man power to help us maintain the filing,” said Hill, “it would be almost impossible to keep up with the day- to- day responsibilities that each position requires.”

So what can students do to increase their chances of receiving aid in the coming years?

“The best advice I could give anyone for assistance next year is apply for financial aid early,” advised King. “The state of Tennessee has a TSAA grant that is given on a first come-first served basis to eligible students. This year the funds for that award had run out before the month of February was over.

“So, the sooner a student fills out a FAFSA for next year, the better because those who had their FAFSA in and processed in mid-February received the award if they were eligible. Students with the same financial situations who waited to apply in later February or after did not receive the additional TSAA aid.”

As for this year, students who are looking for employment should check with each department on campus because each department is like its own business with its own budget. Offices that stay open longer – such as the library and the fitness center – are often looking for students to work specific shifts. Students can check with the department of their major to see if there are any projects they need help with.