Departments compromise for work study employees

Stephan Useche/BBC Managing Editor

Recently, the Federal Work Study Program has suffered cuts and departments, including FIU Libraries and the Recreation Center, have felt the impact.

The FWS Program helps students with financial needs by awarding them money in the form of a paycheck when they work for departments within the University.

Before the 2012-2013 school year, FWS covered 100 percent of the awards; but, according to Lydia Lopez, assistant director of Human Resources and Budget, each department of the University will now have to contribute 25 percent of these awards from their own budgets.

“It’s a compromise, so the students can get the award,” said Lopez. “Twenty-five percent is very reasonable.”

According to Lopez, the libraries hire up to 80 to 90 student employees each year and the amount of FWS students have decreased along with its fiscal year. In the 2011-2012 school year, the total amount of FWS awards for the library were $623,542; this dropped to $202,065.75 the next year, according to Lopez.

This drop was also noticed at the Hubert Library, located at Biscayne Bay Campus, when the amount of FWS employees went from 33 in 2011 to 9 in 2012, according to Lopez.

Director of Financial Aid Francisco Valines wrote in an email to Student Media that there will not be any further cuts because the University was “funded at the same level for the 2013-2014 school year as we were at the 2012-2013 school year.”

However, “there’s only an amount of money that they receive,” said Lopez, ”and they want to spread that as much as possible.”

In the case of the the Recreation Center, the number of FWS employees has decreased from five to three or two per semester within the 175 students who work for them, according to Robert Frye, director of Campus Recreation.

“We used to get a lot more, probably about five years ago before things started to tighten up,” said Frye. “We would have as many as ten in our staff, but Financial Aid is cut back and it’s tougher to get that.”

Frye said that when it is time to hire, the department does not look into whether the applicant is part of the FWS program.

“We look into whether they are going to fit our availability needs, their background and experience,” said Frye.

While the program helps students and departments alike by funding employment, once a FWS employee has used up the award, they cannot continue working unless the department decides to take on the paycheck itself.

“Sometimes they would run out before the end of the semester, which is not a good thing for us,” said Frye. “And it’s not a good thing for them because they [can’t] work anymore and we have to fill those hours that they can no longer work.”


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