Work-Study Budget to Be Cut at Pomona

As a part of the recent slew of budget cuts, students not on work-study will receive a smaller allotment of money they can earn and students on work-study will not be able to apply for increases in allotment. Currently, $2.3 million are spent on student wages. The administration is attempting to cut $500,000 from that total value. Various departments and campus offices are beginning to examine whether certain positions should be cut.

“Each of the areas on campus are being asked to describe positions and rank their priority for the office,” said Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum. “We’ve looked at the principles we’d like to follow and the types of positions that are really important to the college. Positions that help student professional or intellectual development, and positions integral to offices on campus are the top priorities.”

“A major way we’re trying to implement the reduction is by making a distinction between students on financial aid and other students,” said Feldblum. “Every other college makes that distinction already, but we went away from it.”

About fifteen years ago, the college began to allow non-work-study students on-campus job opportunities. Part of the budget cuts will be to reduce the allocation given to these students. However, the college insists on retaining the opportunities to work.

“One of the things very important to the college is to retain the opportunity for students not on financial aid to work,” said Feldblum. “I think working on campus is really part of the community culture. Over 70 percent of students have some kind of on-campus job.”

This issue has not been raised at the other colleges in the Claremont Consortium, mostly because their on-campus jobs are restricted to students on work-study.

“The other colleges have jobs only for work study. We were in a privileged position. We don’t want to miss that, but we do have to pull back some,” said Feldblum.

Other programs also have to cut back on funding. For example, according to Feldblum, programs like PCIP are trying to cut money from their budget without getting rid of the program. PCIP has decided to cut the total number of hours per week and cut the included pay rate slightly. For students on financial aid, allotments will not be cut, as the college has said that it is committed to protecting financial aid from drastic budget cuts, but students will no longer be able to petition to increase their allotment.

“It’s an effect on allotment,” Mary Booker, Director of Pomona Financial Aid, explained. “We’re going to hold students to their work-study allotment. In prior years, students could request increases and we said yes. But now we’re going to have to stick to budget.”

Sarah Ruiz PO ‘10, a Coop Store manager, takes issue with this change because it hurts her ability to operate the store.

“We’ve already had two managers at the store that had to quit. We don’t even know how we’re going to have enough people over commencement weekend,” she said.

According to Ruiz, this also makes it more attractive to hire students from the other colleges to work at the Coop fountain and store, because they do not have to deal with work-study allotments. Furthermore, it makes it difficult to get shifts covered at the store, maintain a staff of trained workers, and to manage employees.

“This punishes people who work the most and the people that work the hardest,” said Ruiz. “The people who use the allotment are the people who need the money.”

Some students view this change as a cut to financial aid, which the administration promised it would not touch.

“The administration was so adamant about not cutting financial aid, but they’re cutting this,” said Kim Aldinger PO ’11. “Work study is a form of financial aid.”

“They shouldn’t be capping us,” said Ruiz. “It doesn’t make sense. $2,000 is a small amount per year.”

The financial aid office, however, feels that the allotment is reasonable for the purpose of work-study.

“Student employment was never intended to be a part-time job,” Booker said. “Regular staff members were told that they weren’t going to be getting any salary increases. That applies across the board. It’s very respectable that students want to work more, but our budget just doesn’t allow it.”

The financial aid office hopes that students will be able to adjust to these changes. While they sympathize with student managers, they also feel that the allotment is reasonable.

“I just hope students understand that it’s not that we’re trying to prevent them from earning money,” said Booker. “We don’t have the budget for part-time jobs. If at some point, we need to look at personal expenses and reevaluate work-study, we can do that. Changing that is down the road though.”

Students interested in the issue can have their voices heard. Feldblum said that students can discuss their concerns with representatives on the budget planning advisory committee, the ASPC, and with her directly.

These changes will likely be in place for the next few years. Until Pomona recovers from the economic downturn, allotment will continue to be affected.

“I don’t anticipate this changing unless the market turns,” Booker said. “The long-term goal is to keep Pomona sustainable. For the next two years at least, we will have to hold to budget.”

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