Pomona student work allotments will increase next year and the system for awarding grants for health insurance will be restructured, the Office of Financial Aid told students in an April 9 e-mail.
Currently, first-years on financial aid can earn up to $1,900 for the year through on-campus employment, and this sum increases by $100 each year, so that seniors can earn up to $2,200. With next year's changes, all students on financial aid will be able to earn up to $2,300, regardless of their class year.
The e-mail also clarified that receiving outside scholarships reduces a student's work allotment to the minimum amount of $1,150, which is also the amount allotted to students who are not on financial aid, unless he or she requests an allotment increase and this request is approved by the student's supervisor.
In addition to the increase in allotments, the Office of Financial Aid announced changes to the system for granting coverage to students who come to Pomona without health insurance. In the past, the school has given full grants for health insurance to students on a full scholarship, half grants and half loans to students who have a partial scholarship, and full loans for students with no financial aid. Next year, all students on any level of financial aid will have the option to receive half loans and half grants if they decide to opt-in to the college health insurance policy.
Director of Financial Aid Mary Booker said these changes were made mostly for students' benefit, not to save money or cut the budget.
“The financial aid budget went up at least 3.5 percent,” she said. “These policies taking place are not a cost-saving measure at all.”
“How it impacts students can depend on how the students view it,” Booker added. “What we are trying to do is simply streamline the process for students and not have to worry about 'this tier' versus 'that tier.' One policy applies to students across the board.”
The news of increased work allotments for standard term-time, need-based work was well received by some students.
“Increasing [allotments] will affect a lot of students,” Caress Reeves PO ’12 said.“I personally know a lot of people who depend on work study a lot for their livelihood. So it looks like it will be a good change.”
Julie Juarez PO '12 echoed this sentiment.
“I think that it is really good that they’re increasing all student allotments,” she said. “The current system was not allotting for how much money I needed for my expenses, because it was the only job I had.”
Booker acknowledged that the student response to the changes in health insurance coverage might be more mixed.
“Some students may feel like [health insurance is] something we should cover with full grant, but that is a difficult conversation to have with families who are on the fringes,” she said.
The Office of Financial Aid also clarified parts of the existing policy. The e-mail informed students that they could receive a grant to cover the costs of fee-based Pomona P.E. courses, but not for P.E. courses at other schools.
“Although [the policies] are all in our brochures, I don’t think students read them, or read them very closely,” Booker said. “So we decided to send out an e-mail and say, before you pre-register these are some things you need to be aware of. I don’t think students are really aware what some of the practices are and were therefore kind of guessing what they should ask for and shouldn’t ask for.”