Work study hiring process leaves students frustrated

Fall semester began with uncertainty for some students as they waited for approval of work study positions. Students who held best essay writing services positions in the program last semester hoped that they would be hired again this semester while incoming students competed for the limited positions available by filing their Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) application by the deadline.

For many of these students’ families, the income earned and the skills gained from the work study program help to lessen the burden of tuition, and offer the student practical experience to enhance their resume. With their positions in limbo and so much depending upon their approval, many students question the program’s efficiency.

Coordinator of Financial Aid Chris Knouse explained that some of the misunderstandings surrounding the program exist due to students’ expectations. “There always seem to be some contentions about the work study program,” said Knouse. “Like all financial aid, it is not guaranteed.”

Three sources fund the program: money from the federal government, money from the state government, and contributions from the college.

“There is a limited amount of money available. We have a set budget to hire 131 students,” said Dean of Financial Aid, Linda Brittain. “We received emails from worksite supervisors stating that students were upset about not getting their positions.”

The program’s rules for acceptance are simple. Students must file all necessary financial aid forms prior to their deadline. Those interested in a work study position must indicate so on the required FAFSA form. Students must also be enrolled full time and have satisfactory grades.

“It comes down to responsibility,” said Brittain. “Students must do what is necessary on their part to be considered for a position.”

Students disagreed and claimed that the financial aid office did a poor job of notifying students of their awards, including their work study allowance.

“I don’t think that I was actually notified that I didn’t receive my work study position,” said Daniela Kenmure ’14. “I saw that I had an outstanding balance on my account and went to the Business Office. I just assumed that I would get it and found out that I didn’t only two weeks before classes.”

340 students applied for the 131 work study positions available. The program uses a waiting list to address this issue. “Students give up their work study positions for a variety of reasons. Some decide they need to focus on their studies,” said Knouse. “The waiting list allows for this flexibility. The first hires are the critical positions and those most in financial need.”

A misconception exists between students and the Financial Aid Office’s definition of “critical position.”

Students granted work study jobs in skilled positions, like tutors in the Academic Support Center, believe that their skills and training qualify them as “critically needed.” These students feel that if they are trained and do well in their first semester on the job, then they should automatically be granted that position again for the following semester.

“If you are hired a second time for the same position you make more money than in the first semester,” said Kenmure ’14, who trained at the security desk in Lenfest Commons. “My supervisor tried to get me my position again because he didn’t want to train someone new.”

Students expressed concern over the program’s seemingly inconsistent policies.

“The students and the Financial Aid Office are not playing on the same team,” said Victoria Alterio ’14. “I know that some students were told that the availability of work study jobs depended on when they filed their FAFSA, but that’s bullshit because my mom didn’t turn mine in until the end of the year.”

The Financial Aid Office wants students to know that they understand that “word of mouth” about work study positions and student hires cause students to mistrust the program. “If a student finds themselves in a hole this semester because of financial strain we want students to know that we are willing to work with them to help ease their stress.” said Knouse. “Come and talk to me.”

To contact Chris Knouse email her at


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