Putting everyone’s differing opinions about Drexel aside, we can all agree on one thing: It is extremely expensive, and every little dollar counts. Many college students rely heavily on scholarships and work-study funds to get by during the school year, and recent federal budget cuts are certainly not making it any easier to pay for a Drexel education. By now, students have been notified if they were awarded work-study funds for the 2013-14 academic year, and some who were granted funds in prior years may not be so lucky this time. This past March, a congressional stalemate led to forced sequestration, and $85 million was cut from the federal budget, significantly draining work-study funds at universities throughout the country. Now that students are applying for campus jobs for the fall, hoping for some extra cash, the budget cuts are truly being felt on campus. The Editorial Board is concerned for students and families who are relying on these funds but is confident that they can overcome this obstacle with smart choices.
According to the Drexel Central website, “The Federal College Work-Study program at Drexel is designed to help college students who have demonstrated financial need work part-time to earn money for education-related expenses such as books, transportation and personal expenses.” Key words: “demonstrated financial need.” What the government may not realize is that they are not taking money away from students who just want extra money in their pockets. They are snatching money from students who truly need that extra push to experience the normal college lifestyle. What are students going to do if they can’t afford textbooks? Food? These are necessities for students that the government cannot and should not overlook.
Considering the bigger picture, these cuts are also a burden to the University, which will eventually trickle down to the students. Because the work-study staff positions at the library, in the residence halls, at the recreation center and elsewhere on campus will still need to be filled, the University will be forced to pay those wages instead of distributing the government funds. When Drexel’s costs go up, tuition goes up. Students are then hit with a double whammy: increasing tuition costs and less financial aid to help defray them.
However, let’s look at another perspective. Although it will probably put a little extra strain on students who have grown accustomed to having work-study funds, these cuts will most likely not prevent anyone from continuing their education. Most students who receive this funding aren’t allotted more than $2,000 per academic year. While it’s convenient to have a job on campus, we’re lucky to go to school in a city with tons of restaurants and stores within walking distance. If a student had previously worked on campus, he or she can apply to some local places instead, even if the hours may not be as flexible as work-study jobs. Many work-study positions at Drexel only pay minimum wage, so there isn’t a huge disconnect between what a student could collect of one’s work-study funds per week and what the same student could make at a non-Drexel affiliated part-time job.
When Drexel was founded, the co-op program began as a way to help students put themselves through college. Tuition wasn’t always through the roof, and the paid internships helped our predecessors afford the cost of higher education. Many of us are lucky enough to have our parents help us pay for Drexel, but surely there are still people struggling to pay tuition — or at least dreading graduation and the pile of loans that come with it. Maybe, now that much of our work-study funding has been cut, students will learn to live a little more frugally. Sure, $2,000 is a lot of money for a college student to lose, but it’s not impossible to replace. There are ways to make up for the lost funds, and with the right attitude it’s not the end of the world.