Federal budget does not restore Work-Study

Kevin Davies
Staff Writer

Many University of La Verne students were delivered a blow to their pockets when new financial aid packages came out recently. The main reason has been the failure in the federal budget to reinstate many programs, as well as freezing the Federal Work-Study budget, which was seriously cut for the 2004-2005 school year.

Shortage of Work-Study funds – and jobs – is leaving students without sufficient funds for tuition and living expenses.

While Work-Study had traditionally been made available to most students here based on financial need, budget cuts decreased the number of student workers from 507 students in 2004-2005 to roughly 300 students in 2005-2006 according to the ULV office of financial aid.

These cuts have left only students with extreme need the opportunity to have Work-Study employment.

According to Student Employment and Scholarship Coordinator Stephanie Escalante, these budget cuts started in 2003 and are consistent with other campuses. These cuts are dramatically affecting several of the University’s departments because of a lack of student workers to keep campus buildings open for regular hours.

“Work-Study made it possible to finance education and learn a trade that could be valuable for experience in the work force,” Escalante said. “If students want change, they need to be proactive and write letters to elected officials about the importance of the Federal Work-Study program.”

The University of La Verne is in the process of spending roughly $21 million to renovate and improve the school’s athletic facilities. One of the key areas the University targeted during the campus center project was the fitness center because it will be used by all students, not just athletes. The fitness center is set to open on May 8, 2006 with state-of-the-art equipment and a better overall atmosphere, but will see a major decrease in it’s originally planned hours of operation because of the lack of student workers made available.

Strength and conditioning coach Matt Durant works directly with the University’s athletes giving him little time to monitor the day-to-day operation of the fitness center. This gave many student-athletes the opportunity to work in the fitness center checking cards and maintaining it.

Durant said he has gone from roughly 15 to 20 student workers in 2003 to having six this year because of the budget cuts.

“Given this situation, we are looking at spending a ton of money on making this a state-of-the-art-facility, but students won’t be able to utilize it the way they should because of the hours,” Durant said.

“I feel bad for the students that lost their Work-Study because it gave them an opportunity to actually have some cash in college and helped make our fitness center run properly,” Durant added.

This situation has been a burden to students that need extra money because jobs outside the university don’t appear to be geared towards students at all anymore with the length that work shifts are usually set at.

Pat Mottola, junior business major, said jobs outside the University are expecting their employees to work eight- to 10-hour shifts, which makes it very hard for students to work and maintain grades or even be hired because of availability.

“I intended on finally using my Work-Study this year because I moved out on my own and was strapped for cash because I can only work limited hours at my job now with a full load of classes,” Mottola said. “When I opened my financial aid award this year and saw I didn’t have Work-Study anymore I was shocked and definitely worried about how I was going to continue paying rent and affording food.”

While some students do have jobs off campus and are still low on cash because of schedule restrictions, other students that are extremely involved in campus activities and with their academic course load are in dying need of work-study to make ends meet.

“I never expected to lose my work study after working three years in the athletic department and gaining raises each year,” Joe Lovallo, senior communications major and football player said.

“My commitment to football and trying to graduate on time made it very hard for me to have a real job off campus, but work study was like a saving grace because it helped with tuition and with day-to-day expenses,” Lovallo added. “My senior year has not been easy without it.”

The University’s financial aid department is doing the best they can to accommodate student’s needs by having an appeals process that begins after the first month of school. Students that complete the process are given jobs on a first come first serve basis from students that did not accept their work study.

With these federal cuts, ULV can potentially lose student involvement in campus activities, athletics, and other events because students can no longer count on a work-study paycheck and need to move on to a more demanding work schedule outside the University.

Kevin Davies can be reached at kdavies@ulv.edu.

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