Federal Work-Study "Allowed Me to Graduate Debt-Free"

May 25, 2017

President Trump's 2018 budget proposal includes drastic cuts to the U.S. Department of Education (ED): $10.6 billion in reductions to federal education initiatives. Among them are the elimination of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service, including AmeriCorps; elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF); a $3.9 billion reduction from the Pell Grant program reserve fund, with the inflationary adjustment eliminated; and $487 million, or almost half of funding, slashed from Federal Work-Study.

The following stories from NCAN members highlight the importance of this funding -- and Federal Work-Study in particular -- to college access programs and the students they serve. For students, every dollar counts when piecing together a financial aid package.

"Work-Study and SEOG are the few financial aid programs that Emily might benefit from"

From Jodi Then, American Student Assistance:

I have a student, Emily (name changed), who due to significant medical issues resulting from childhood leukemia has had to transfer schools and programs multiple times. She has essentially exhausted her federal student loan benefits and has about 10 percent left on her lifetime Pell Grant eligibility limit. Emily has 10 classes left to finish her bachelor’s degree.

Even at a state college, the cost is beyond what Emiily's Social Security Income can afford. She is in a wheelchair, as she can only stand for a few minutes at a time; her immune system is compromised and she gets sick often, sometimes requiring hospitalization, which precludes her from obtaining a job. Her hope is that she can finish her degree and get a job as an editor for math and science textbooks, essentially working from home. Eventually she would like to work in online publishing.

Federal Work-Study and SEOG are the few financial aid programs that Emily might benefit from. The only way she can work is if she is on campus, as work-study jobs tend to have more flexibility than traditional jobs, and her hospitalizations would not be cause for firing. She still has one semester left of partial Pell eligibility, which also grants her SEOG eligibility. These, along with state funds, might allow her to finish her degree.

Because she plans to work in an educational field, Emily's hope is to work for a non-profit and benefit from PSLF. As her medical condition is very expensive and limits her employment options, she needs PSLF in order to be financially secure.


College Forward Students & Staff on Why Work-Study Works

From Hannah, a student at Paris Junior College in Paris, TX: 

"Work-study has helped me pay my tuition, save money for books, and save money to further my education. If funding was cut and I had a tuition balance greater than $0, I would have to get an additional job outside of school.

"If I could talk to someone [considering cutting work study] I'd mention that there may be a need for more easily accessible scholarships, or that tuition should drop to a lower price to make up for the lack of work study jobs already on campus."

From Completion Coach Paul:

"I worked for Innovation Greenhouse at the University of North Texas as a student assistant. It allowed me to graduate entirely debt-free."

From Completion Coach Sean:

"I worked at the Rhodes College ITS Help Desk in our library. Work-study gave me an opportunity to help fellow students and professors at my school with research and IT help, both key parts in today's education system. I was able to gain valuable experience in a work environment that promoted learning and development."

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