Following a global pandemic that has left many students jobless, one particular award stuck out when it came time for students to accept financial aid packages. Federal Work-Study is granted through FAFSA and, every year, Whittier College students have the opportunity to get jobs on campus in order to pay that award back. With campus life being put to a halt, many job opportunities did not transfer over and become remote, leaving students without employment and at a loss for financial support.
According to studentaid.gov, students receive a work-study award if their school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program and based on their financial need, which is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Students then apply for jobs on campus — for Whittier students, this is mostly done through Handshake — and then that student works to match the amount of money that was awarded to them. Students can then choose to be paid directly or have their earnings be sent directly to the school in order to make sure that the award amount is earned correctly.
While Whittier College offers many students work-study awards, only 346 students as of Oct. 1 have accepted. This may be due to the fact that the amount of work study jobs that are able to work remotely are very limited. It was also announced that there would be no exception funding available during the 2020 – 21 academic year, though department funding may be available on an individual basis.
In a schoolwide email sent out on Aug. 25, Whittier College encouraged students who had work-study awards to apply to remote jobs in order to use that award for their Financial aid. This past summer, the Career Center and Human Resources worked together to make sure that all the descriptions of jobs on Handshake were accurate in order to help students who were looking for employment. In some instances, employers were laid off and some students are worried if their job will be available for them next year — that is, if students are allowed to return to campus.
“[Work-study] helps me out financially and makes paying for school cheaper. Every little bit helps, and even though I am staying at home this semester and not residing on campus, I still wish I had an opportunity to earn some money to cover tuition,” third-year Tori Sturges said. “Many of my bosses were laid off or do not work with the school anymore, so I don’t know if I will have a job to return to once the pandemic is over.”
It is no secret that higher education is expensive and awards such as work-study make it somewhat easier for students to attend school without having to worry about paying large amounts of tuition out of pocket. Financial aid is also essential for keeping some students in school. According to the financial aid page on the Whittier College website, “85 percent of students receive some sort of aid,” which suggests that the College is aware that many students can not afford to pay for college out of pocket.
“As a first-generation college student, I am paying for college all on my own,” said fourth-year Diana Sarabia. “Since my freshman year, I’ve made the decision to continue [my education] no matter the cost because education is strongly important to myself and to my family. Even now, with two jobs and school, it is a very big struggle, and I give everyone props in these weird times to continue to further their education while also working.”
With resources being limited, it is not hard to see why so many students are upset or feel discouraged regarding the help that has been given by the school. Some feel that the College could be doing more or act more understanding of circumstances. While Whittier cannot give everyone all the financial support they need, nor can they make the school tuition-free, there are still remote jobs available on Handshake.
“I’ve talked to a lot of administration in the past. I know that they’re doing their best to help support students at this time and sometimes it’s not enough for all of us, but I believe that we should still be grateful for whatever they are able to give us and appreciate the little things,” said Sarabia. “ However, I do wish that administration like the Business Office and Financial Aid [Office] would be a little bit more understanding for other students. I believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way, and if they really wanted to help their students, they would do whatever the cost to help them.”
While the College can only do so much, it is important to remember that this is a new situation that no one has faced before. It is a process of trial-and-error, and while that may not be a fair game to play, especially with student’s financial aid, it is something that everyone is trying to deal with.
To find what remote jobs the campus is offering, click here.
Feature image: Courtesy of @WCtheRock