Should requirements for Work-Study change?

Dear Editor,

According to the United States Department of Education, the Federal Work-Study Program provides students with part-time employment. Upon entering my freshman year at Mercer University, I qualified for this financial aid. However, changes within my family that occurred within this past year resulted in the removal of the aid. As a result, an issue arose when my previous employer tried to rehire me, but was unable to because the funding source was Work-Study. In consequence, I had to find another job. When looking through the possible job openings on the student employment website, I noticed that out of around 30 employment listings, only about seven of the options were funded outside of the Federal Work-Study Program.

 Although the Work-Study grant is given to many that need it, there are still some students that fail to qualify due to the lack of breadth in the application for FAFSA. For instance, loans the family or student may already have are without consideration when filing this application. The application also lacks an option to indicate that a student is paying for their college expenses even if they are claimed as dependent for taxes. As a result, some students are excluded from the Work-Study Program due to their parents’ incomes, although the students are responsible for the funds themselves.

Even if a student is rejected from Federal Work-Study due to his or her estimated family contribution, the student may still need a job in order to participate in some of the organizations and events either on campus or in Macon. For instance, Greek Life, Honor Societies, retreats and other organizations all require fees that students are responsible for paying. Extracurricular activities boost a student’s employment prospects after graduation. In order to experience Mercer at its full potential and be successful in the future, students must be able to afford these extracurricular opportunities.

 The limited amount of non-Work-Study jobs should be changed. If this proves infeasible, Mercer should partner with businesses around the Macon community in order to provide part-time jobs for those who need them. In addition to providing funds for students, it would give students more work experience that could benefit them after graduating from Mercer and going into the job market. By branching out into Macon, Mercer would get students out of their pod communities and facilitate networking with businesses.