Work-Study Worries

"Emily Rutledge spends 16 hours a week in the University of North Georgia’s university relations office for her federal work-study job, tracking times the press mentions the university, helping to coordinate logistics for events like commencement and assisting graphic designers," Inside Higher Ed reports. "... Now, however, Rutledge and other students in the federal work-study program are entering a period of uncertainty after President Trump released his budget proposal Thursday. Trump's budget plan calls for substantial changes and cuts to the federal work-study program."

"The president’s broad budget outline calls for reducing Federal Work-Study 'significantly' and reforming it to direct funds to 'undergraduate students who would benefit most.' It does not contain specific amounts for how much the program, which spends about $1 billion annually on hundreds of thousands of student jobs, would be cut. Nor does it spell out how remaining work-study funds would be reallocated.

The proposal from Trump, who consistently talked about jobs on the campaign trail and in the Oval Office, surprised many supporters of Federal Work-Study. Few forms of student aid would seem more politically aligned with that message than one in which students work for the funds they receive.

... Still, many agree the federal work-study program has its issues. The program cost the federal government slightly less than $1 billion in each of the last several years. About 671,000 students received aid from it in 2013-14, and the average award amount came in at $1,669, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. But just 46 percent of dependent undergraduate recipients came from families with incomes of less than $42,000.

Critics argue the program skews too heavily away from low-income students and gives too much money to students from families with higher incomes. Only 8.2 percent of the dollars that went to dependent undergraduates in 2013-14 went to students from families with incomes below $6,000, according to NASFAA. More than a third, 35.2 percent, went to those from families with incomes of $60,000 or more.

It should be noted students with family incomes of more than $60,000 can have difficulty paying their bills at many private colleges. Still, the way the aid breaks down by income bracket is controversial. That breakdown is due to the way the work-study program disburses funds and its legislative history. The program, started in 1964, disburses funding to colleges and universities instead of directly to students. Those colleges and universities then break up the funding they receive and award it to students, exercising broad discretion."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.




Publication Date: 3/17/2017

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