Student Wage Allotments Cut for Non-Financial Aid Pomona Students

In recent budget cuts, Pomona College slashed an estimated $400,000 from campus job allotments, capping total annual earnings for students not on financial aid at $1,000. The cut, the second largest in size of the 2009-2010 school year, is almost 17 percent of the $2.38 million previously allocated for student wages.Roughly half of the student body does not receive financial aid and is therefore affected by the new policy. Richard Fass, vice president for planning at Pomona, said the primary purpose of the student-work program is to provide for students on financial aid.“In tight budget times, if we have to make choices, the priority will always go to the students with the greatest financial need,” Fass said. “That’s the principle behind [the cuts].”The Budget Planning Advisory Committee (BPAC), he said, began discussions about budget cuts with the desire to maintain allotments for students not on financial aid.“What Pomona was doing was extraordinary and unusual, in providing students who are not on aid with on-campus jobs,” Fass said.According to Carl Martellino, Director of the Pomona Career Development Office (CDO), more students have come into the office looking for off-campus jobs than in previous years. Students cannot volunteer time at on-campus jobs because of California labor laws, and they cannot work multiple jobs if they are granted an allotment increase.“I personally run into students who are frustrated,” said Kelly Schwartz PO ’10, vice president for finance for the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC). “[The cut is] very limiting, very restrictive. It’s the thing that’s affected the student experience the most because it extends to PCIP [the Pomona College Internship Program] and things readily available in the past.”Sarah Ruiz PO ’10, Coop Store business manager, said the cap has already proved frustrating. Though the Office of Financial Aid granted the store exemption from the new cap, Ruiz fears students will run through their allotments before the end of the year.“It’s a mess right now,” Ruiz said about the situation at the Coop. “Financial Aid has all the power here. They can do whatever they want essentially. We can get mad at Financial Aid, but we don’t know who in there is mandating these changes and I don’t feel like it’s saving all that much. It’s a really complicated system and it’s not very transparent.”Ruiz wants the school to let students ask for individual increases in their wage allotments.“The school is trying to create equality where it does not exist,” Ruiz said. “It doesn’t make sense for them to cap hard-working students and not allocate for people who will do the job.”Carrie Dedon PO ’10 had to quit her job as Coop Store manager because of the new allotments policy. The worker hired to replace her is being paid the same amount Dedon was paid.“I just can’t see how that’s saving Financial Aid any money,” Dedon said. “If anything, it’s more expensive because the new hire has to be paid to do training for a job that I already knew how to do. I think that’s happening in a lot of jobs where the work has to get done, so the wages just get moved from one employee to another.”Cutting student allocations does not necessarily guarantee the school will save $400,000. If students choose to meet their allotments or if students who previously did not work take jobs, the budget may not decrease as much as expected.“The budget cut was done in an indirect way by cutting allocations,” Fass said. “There’s a risk in what we did, that it won’t achieve savings.”In a student survey conducted by ASPC last spring, 43 percent of respondents ranked work-study as their highest budget priority. Though the survey did not differentiate between on-campus allotments for students receiving aid and those not, Fass said the findings did not provide any new information.“We interpreted [the survey] as being entirely consistent with what we were thinking,” Fass said. “When you make a change of that magnitude, you have to wait and see [the results].”In anticipation of a higher number of requests for allotment increases, the school asked academic departments to submit petitions for student exceptions before the school year began. Students considered for exceptions include those working in specialized positions, RAs and admissions interviewers. A number of jobs have also been cut, including some in academic departments, the Rains Center and the Smith Campus Center, but there are still more campus jobs than students, according to Fass.“Maybe students can’t find jobs they want as readily,” Fass said, “but there are still jobs unfilled.”ASPC President Jed Cullen PO ’10 said the group is working on solutions and pushing for reviews of how the policy works.“It’s so complex of an issue, to cut $400,000 in three months,” Cullen said. “Work study is the one area where we will improve. We have to take what we have and build it back up to what it ought to be.”The next step, Cullen said, is to identify on-campus jobs that require specialized students and mold the exemption structure to fit each job. Though the situation is not ideal, Cullen said there is hope for improvement.“It’s good to instill work value, and there are many things we can do with the student hours, but I’m glad you can still take a job on campus regardless of financial aid,” Cullen said. “Some things aren’t what they used to be, but at the same time, we’re still in pretty good shape.”None of the other 5Cs changed their student-wage budget policies this year. Scripps students on financial aid can earn up to $1,800, but there is no limit on how much students not on financial aid can earn. Seniors receiving aid at Pitzer can earn up to $3,130, but students not on aid are ineligible for work-study jobs, which comprise more than half of on-campus jobs. Claremont McKenna students not on financial aid are also ineligible for work-study jobs, though there are non–work study jobs on campus. Seniors receiving aid at Harvey Mudd can earn up to $2,800, but pay for HMC students not on aid depends on each department’s budget.

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