How Work Study Works
“Work-Study” is a program of the Federal Government that has three purposes: To give needy college students a chance to make some money, provide work experience, and to provide colleges with a source of labor.
The maximum award for work-study jobs at PCC is $4,500 over either three or four terms, with no more than $1,500 earned in a quarter. Most students get the full $4500 award, which isn’t a great deal, but Lewis says this is more than many colleges award.
At PCC, about 90% of students meet the eligibility requirements . However, that doesn’t mean they are will be offered a work-study job, or even that they are in the pool of applicants.
First, there is the matter of funding. The amount the Department of Education gives to the college for work-study depends on the school’s enrollment. Here at PCC, about $900,000 is given per year, which is enough to fund about 400 jobs.
Second, the student must jump through the proper hoops. To be “qualified” for a work-study job, the student must complete the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) form, meet the financial need, and check the “available for work study box.” They also need to have a 2.0 Grade Point Average and take at least 6 credit hours for each term they work.
Managers at the college select the jobs can be done by a work-study student. Jobs that only need to be filled during the academic year are ideal. The manager asks the work-study office if the job can be ‘created’ as a work-study position, and if so, that job becomes one that can be paid for with federal dollars.
Now things get tricky. There are thousands of students who are “qualified” and hundreds of jobs that can be filled by a work-study employee, but there is funding for only 400 positions . So there are potentially more job-seekers than available jobs, and more available jobs than funds to fill them. To keep things manageable, the Work-Study office sets up a pool of applicants. For the 2017-2018 year, the first cut of getting into the pool of applicants was whether or not they had put in their FAFSA application by February, 2017.
From that group, 1,000 names were pulled using a random system built into Banner, the management software system used by the college for all its employees. These students received an email saying they have been “awarded” the right to apply for a work-study job. They were the lucky winners who got first crack at a job on campus.
Rebecca Lewis of the Work-Study office noted that not everyone who receives an “award” actually wants a work-study job, and there are more jobs open than funding allows. This gives the students some choice in seeking positions that meet their job skills and interests. However, it also means that some managers will have jobs that go unfilled.
Students who receive an award letter can go to PantherWorks on MyPCC and look at the list of available jobs. Only students with a work study award can see the work study jobs available in PantherWorks. All students have access to other jobs listed there. The student has 30 days to find a job. (Sometimes extended in the summer.) After that period of time, if the student has not found a position, the award is withdrawn and a new set of about 200 names are pulled from the waiting list to receive an award letter. They in turn have 30 days to find a job, and so on.
After finding a position that interests them, the student contacts the supervisor and is interviewed in whatever process the supervisor/manager thinks is best. If the supervisor decides to hire the person, they report this through PantherWorks. At that point an “EPAF” (Electronic Personnel Action Form” is created. This formally tells the Human Resources and Payroll departments to hire the person.
Work-study is like any other job. If the worker doesn’t perform the duties of the job, they can be put on a workplan or terminated. Lewis notes that most supervisors are flexible about students who can’t show up for a shift- if they are notified in advance and it doesn’t happen too often.