By Kara Fisher
With the economy taking a toll on the wallets of today’s college students, many are now working while going to school.
Education and work have become primary worries in American lives. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this past January focused on education and jobs.
“At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded,” President Obama said.
Obama went on to stress the importance of a college education by setting a goal for the nation.
“By the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world,” Obama said.
The President’s key issues of education and jobs can be seen right here at Whitworth University. Students all across campus are out getting jobs. Whether it is taking two jobs or working the night shifts at Sacred Heart Hospital, students are looking to make ends meet.
Junior David Dennis has recently taken on two jobs. He works as the general manager at the Whitworth FM radio station and as security at the Knitting Factory in downtown Spokane.
“Knowing that I have money in the bank makes the stressful days easier,” Dennis said.
Having a job, in Dennis’ case two, allows him to afford what he wants. At the beginning of the year Dennis thought he could manage making it by with only one job. He recently decided that one wasn’t enough to fund his expenses and picked up his security job at the Knitting Factory.
“Having two jobs has taught me more than my education has in these past few weeks,” Dennis said.
Dennis works 40 hours a week between the two jobs. He has had to get organized.
“It helps me to learn how to multitask under lots of stress,” Dennis said.
Dennis is one of many who have taken on jobs this year. Senior Chris Colvin knows the wee hours of the morning due to his late hours. Colvin works the night shifts as an Emergency Department assistant. He is a certified EMT, both state and nationally. Colvin will work from 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. and be back on campus for an 8 a.m. class. He generally works 20 hours a week.
“I like helping people. It is what I want to do,” Colvin said.
Colvin likes working at the hospital because it gives him a chance to apply what he learns in the classroom to real life and because it helps him out financially. According to Colvin it helps him to buy his girlfriend things and support his own living expenses.
“It allows me to have more freedom, save for the things I want,” Colvin said.
Colvin does not mind the late hours and hard days afterwards.
“The people I work with are awesome. They make work enjoyable for me,” Colvin said.
Junior Maery Simmons enjoys the financial independence of having a job.
“It has given me a step towards independence,” Simmons said.
Simmons works at the Spokane Civic Theatre in downtown Spokane, on work-study. Simmons, like Dennis, says that her job has taught her more than how to make money.
“It has been helping me be a more responsible student,” Simmons said.
Simmons says that it teaches her to do homework when she has the time and hang out with friends when it is done.
Work-study is a big part of the Whitworth University campus. According to Laurie Armstrong-Sargent, coordinator for student employment, around 400 students use on-campus work-study and 90 students use off-campus work-study.
Work-study is a program based on a student’s FAFSA application. Qualified businesses can hire students and then be reimbursed for the wages they pay the students by either the state government or federal government.
With recent legislation changes nonprofit organizations receive up to 70 percent of their money back and forprofit organizations receive up to 50 percent of their money back.
It used to be that 100 percent of the money from nonprofit organizations was returned to them. Due the state of the economy legislation cut back the amount they reimbursed businesses.
The federal government funds on-campus work-study positions while the state government funds off-campus work-study positions. The state higher education coordination board is who oversees the budget for the work-study program.
Work-study jobs range from a number of positions. All on-campus jobs, except for chapel jobs, can be work-study positions. Usually $2,500 a school year is given to fund a student’s job.
If a student is working on campus his/her job doesn’t stop when he/she has reached the $2,500. Although, if a student is working off campus the employer is not required to keep that student on its pay roll.
Work-study is a part of a student’s financial aid award based on the need of the student. Not everyone qualifies.
According to Armstrong-Sargent, these work-study jobs and jobs in general help students in more ways than one.
“Studies have shown that students are more organized and do better in school,” Armstrong-Sargent said.
Work-study jobs and jobs around the community are listed under the Career Services link on the Whitworth University website.