NCF student unemployment rises due to work-study cut

In past years, New College has funded between 30 and 75 work-study positions through a combination of federal and state aid. The federal government annually allocates approximately $27,000 to New College for work-study, which the college supplements with aid from the state in order to increase the number of positions available. In the 2010-2011 academic year, New College boosted its federal allocation with $163,000 from state funding. This addition allowed for the sustainment or creation of 75 work-study positions across the campus. This year, the state reduced New College’s aid by over $275,000, leaving financial room for only the 10-12 positions that can be supported by federal funding.

On Sept. 11, Dean of Enrollment Services and Information Technology Kathy Killion e-mailed the college’s department and unit heads, and on Sept. 13 she informed the students about the issue. “As you can well imagine, this poses a great hardship to some of our neediest students and presents problems for campus departments that have relied on these students to perform a wide range of tasks,” she wrote in her e-mail to the department head.

A committee of “College leaders,” including Killion, gathered to determine where the fundable positions would be placed. According to Director of Financial Aid Tara Karas, specific positions, including a math or reading tutor, needed to be filled to maintain federal work-study funding. A percentage of the funding also needed to be allocated to community service, and the rest was distributed to departments that seemed to have the most significant need as determined by the committee. So far, in addition to the two tutors, positions have been placed in the library and child care center. Each department chooses which work-study eligible student fills their position.

According to Kara, “a large percentage” of students were offered work-study this year. First-year students are eligible for work-study because their award letters were sent in March, before the college knew how much their state budget would be cut. More positions may be available later this semester or next semester, though it would depend on whether or not there is spring reallocation of state money or remaining money from the fall semester’s federal aid.             Thesis student Meagan White-Domain has had work-study for the past three years, but was downsized this semester from the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Lab. “It is practically the only way I can go school here, so I have no idea if I will be able to next semester.

“As you can well imagine, College leaders have had numerous discussions about how to help you find employment,” Killion wrote in her e-mail to students. To alleviate student unemployment, Director of the Center for Career Education and Off-Campus Studies Cathy Cuthbertson created a list of local employers as apart of a guide on finding a job in the area. The guide includes businesses that have hired New College students in the past. It also features businesses within a two-mile radius of the campus and along bus routes 2, 15 and 99 for students who do not have cars.

So far, the center has seen about 70 students come by to pick up a guide, most of whom have lost their work-study position. However, none of them have informed Cuthbertson of successfully obtaining a job.

Cuthbertson also recommends that students go to the Career Center’s website and search under the “Job, Internship & Volunteer Opportunities” section, along with the NCF link to College Central, a site where New College alums often post job and internship opportunities.

“Staff is definitely feeling the pinch,” Cuthbertson said. “I lost two of my student assistants who were very instrumental in making this office run day in and day out.”  To make up for the office’s loss, Cuthbertson found money in its budget to fill an OPS position. She has also hired a volunteer. OPS positions are posted through Human Resources on the New College website.

New College leaders also approved the use of departmental OPS positions and carry-forward funds for the creation of student positions. In her department and unit heads e-mail, Killion encouraged faculty to “carve out funds” for one or more student positions.

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