Due to a reduction in Federal funding, the University had to “reduce/adjust” Federal Work Study given to students, notifying them via e-mail.
Gesina Phillips, a senior English major, received the e-mail last Saturday.
“Due to a reduction in the availability of Federal Work Study funds your Federal Work Study award has been reduced/adjusted,” the e-mail stated. “To view this adjustment please log into your piratenet account. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Phillips said she was caught “completely off-guard” by the e-mail. She also said the e-mail was uninformative.
“It offered no details about why my aid was cut besides a reference to a reduction in funds,” Phillips said. “Whether or not I am entitled to this money as per the offer that I accepted at the beginning of the year, I found it to be a completely unsatisfying notification.”
Phillips works in the University Honors Program office doing various things such as clerical work and “sometimes research.”
According to Darlene Robinson, assistant director of Financial Aid for Student Employment, the Federal Work Study funds allotment was reduced by $600,000. The government has elected to put more funding into a Pell Grant Program that assists students.
Before the reduction, the University was able to award eligible students with an offer of $4,000 for the academic year, which is $2,000 per semester, according to Robinson.
“The email sent to students notified them that due to the reduction in our Federal Work Study allotment we’ve had to reduce the amounts they are eligible to earn during the spring semester,” Robinson said. “It does not refer to their hourly wages but rather to their Federal Work Study awarded total amount for the 2010-2011 academic year.”
The Federal Work Study webpage on the Seton Hall website states that students can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year. According to Robinson, the amount of hours a student can work is under review and may be subject to change depending on allotment for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Robinson said approximately 435 students have been affected by the reduction, and students who did not meet the required 2.0 GPA or were not registered for the spring semester completely lost their work study funding.
Kevin Cornell, a freshman who is a front desk assistant at WSOU, had his work study reduced as well.
“I’m not really surprised. The school is really cheap,” Cornell said. “They care more about grass than kids. As soon as the leaves fall off, they have someone cleaning it up.”
While neither Cornell nor Phillips have contacted anyone regarding the reduction, Robinson said every student who has contacted the Financial Aid office has received a response.
“For the most part students are understanding that this is not what we wanted to do but what we needed to do,” Robinson said.
Phillips said work study is convenient for students, and she does not feel she could devote the same amount of time to an off-campus job.
Phillips also said her hours have been cut in half.
“Honestly, I support myself during the year with my work study funds,” Phillips said. “They are how I can afford my school books and all of my other expenses.”
According to Robinson, the budget will continue to be monitored throughout the semester.
“We will as always do what we are able to that is within the best interest of the rules and regulations as well as the best interest of our students and the University,” Robinson said.
Jessica Sutcliffe can be reached at email@example.com.