Work Study hours take cuts due to pandemic hardships


Maggie Young

Senior Ashley Pippin sits at the circulation desk inside Collins Library. As part of the Work Study Program, students at Baker can apply to work as a Library Assistant.

The work study program has been providing on-campus jobs for Baker students for the past several years, such as being an admissions ambassador or a student tutor. While it can provide another source of income for students needing financial aid, it also provides an opportunity for students to have a job they’re passionate about.

“I am a UAA ― a university admissions ambassador,” Sophomore Alyssa Waller said. “I really feel like tour guides and going on tours helps people really get to know Baker on a personal level. So being a tour guide gives me the opportunity to tell people about [Baker] and explain why I love it!”

But since the start of this school year, the work study program and every student worker has received a cut in their paid hours. With this new schedule change, it has led to some concern and uncertainty with its student workers.

“I know the university took a financial hit because of the pandemic,” Waller said. “And I’m glad I get to have any hours in the first place, but I would like more. We do what we can, so I hope it doesn’t last forever.”

Shelley Kneuvean, vice president of finance and administration, oversees the Financial Aid Department which administers the work study program. She describes how the cut is a result of a reduced budget and of the ongoing pandemic.

“The federal funds have declined over the past several years,” Kneuvean said. “We try to balance all of the needs of the university to make the best decisions we can when resources become more limited or we have expenses we did not anticipate, like those related to COVID.” 

While there have been efforts to provide as much assistance as possible, not every student has been affected by the cuts in the same way. 

Junior John Ely has been a part of the work study program since his sophomore year, working as both a UAA and as a math tutor. He describes how fortunate he has felt regarding some of the cuts.

“I knew there were still going to be tours happening and there was still going to be tutoring to do. So I kinda lucked out that [my hours] weren’t slashed by a huge amount,” Ely said. “But that’s a stable source of income for lots of students, especially international students who may not be eligible to work in the United States. When you can get that work study program that’s through the university, any money is better than no money.”

The good news is that there are still other opportunities being offered on campus for students in need of employment.

“We made sure students were aware of job opportunities with two of our on-campus vendors, Follett with the bookstore and American Dining with the café,” Kneuvean said. “Another creative approach we have taken is to offer internship opportunities for credit instead of pay, which provides a unique academic experience to students. We hope that these opportunities will offset the reductions in the work study program.”  

It is currently unknown how long these reduced hours will be in place. However, many are optimistic that, some day, the schedule will return to normal.

“When there’s something like a large economic recession or the coronavirus, I assume that’s when we’re losing funding and hours,” Ely said. “I think once we can figure out this whole situation and get back to business as usual that those work study hours will come back, along with everything else.