Federal Work-Study nixed for many students not on Flex Term

Oct. 14, 2020, 9:11 p.m.

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, which provides eligible students with part-time jobs to pay educational expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, will mainly be offered to students on a Flex Term this year. Stanford previously waived the 2020 and 2021 summer earning expectations and eliminated the work expectation portion of the student contribution for the 2020-21 academic year.

Some employers have expressed frustration and confusion caused by the change to FWS eligibility, and students said they have had to find alternative employment opportunities in order to continue work despite the waiving of the work expectation component of the University bill. 

Previously, a student’s responsibility toward the University bill consisted of both summer earnings and the work expectation. According to the Financial Aid Office, most students had a $5,000 student responsibility: $1,500 from summer earnings and $3,500 from work during the academic year. Eligible students were able to meet the $3,500 work expectation through the FWS program. 

This year, “demonstrated need” — the total net cost — will be entirely covered by financial aid, eliminating the need for many students to work during the academic year, according to the Financial Aid Office.

The University has committed more funding for the financial aid program to replace the 2020-21 work expectation with scholarship funds, according to University spokesperson E.J. Miranda. Though the University initially planned to reduce the work expectation for the current academic year, it ultimately decided to eliminate it entirely.

Some employers on campus exclusively hire work-study eligible students, as this allows employers to use federal funds to pay a portion of students’ wages.

Karen Saltzman, a program manager in the psychiatry department, said that changes and its effects were not clearly communicated. When Saltzman tried to renew a student’s FWS application at the beginning of the year, the student was rejected.

“I want to move forward and find a new student; but it is impossible, not knowing the new requirements,” she wrote in a statement to The Daily.

“I wish I was given this information sooner,” Saltzman added.

Some enrolled students may still be employed by departments but might not be eligible for FWS and thus will be have to be paid entirely by their departments. 

Princess Vongchanh ’23, who previously participated in FWS through the  Community Service Work-Study program, said they liked work-study because it allowed them to align their work with their interests and because it “felt good being able to build community outside of school.”

Vongchanh worked with StreetCode Academy for all of the 2019-2020 academic year through the Community Service Work-Study (CSWS) program. This gave them the opportunity to continue their work with the organization in the summer through Cardinal Quarter, a full-time, public service experience designed to integrate one’s academic learning with field-based experience. They are currently working with the organization for fall. 

“They hired me as a part-time employee through the company since work-study isn’t available,” said Vongchanh.

Under the CARES Act, colleges are no longer required to provide a 25 percent match for FWS students’ wages, according to an article written by the Center for Law and Social Policy.

This article and headline have been corrected to reflect that the Federal Work-Study will be eliminated for many, but not all, enrolled students.

Contact Rosana Maris Arias at rosmar18 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Rosana is an Arts & Life Contributing Writer and a News Staff Writer from La Puente, CA. She enjoys a good hike and is her dog’s biggest fan. The SoCal native misses playing the alto saxophone and looks forward to someday watching the Dodgers (in-person) win another World Series game. Contact her at rmaris 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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