posted on: Thursday February 18, 2010
Devin Murphy ’10 / News Editor
Students receiving off-campus work study will not have to worry about being strapped for cash this semester. After originally receiving two e-mails from the Feinstein Institute of Public Service telling them that it had exhausted its off-campus work study funds, a few days later on Feb. 5, students received another e-mail from the Office of Financial Aid telling them that they would still be receiving financial aid.
Recipients of off-campus work study received notice via e-mail from Raymond Sickinger, Ph.D., chair of Feinstein Institute, on Feb. 2, that its budget had been “nearly depleted.” Students were also informed that the last pay period would end on Feb. 10, and that all time sheets had to be submitted by that date.
On Friday, Feb. 5, students received another e-mail from Sandra Oliveira, director of Financial Aid. Oliveira’s e-mail informed them that they would still receive off-campus work study. She wrote that she had not been aware that Sickinger had made a decision regarding the future of work study for the rest of the academic year.
“I am writing to let each of you know that his e-mail notice was the first time that I had knowledge that a decision was made to terminate all employment for all students participating in off-campus work study,” wrote Oliveira.
The e-mail went on to assure students that Providence College’s entire allotment of federal work study funds had not been exhausted and that all students will definitely be awarded their full work study amounts if they work enough hours.
Hugh Lena, Ph.D. vice president for Academic Affairs, said that there was no miscommunication between the two offices. According to Lena, Feinstein’s funds were nearly depleted. He was aware that Sickinger was planning on sending an e-mail out to students notifying them of the situation and authorized him to do so. When Lena realized how many students were going to be negatively affected by the decision to discontinue off-campus work study he decided to look for unused funds to supplement Feinstein’s funds. He was also aware that the Office of Financial Aid was planning on sending another e-mail to students and authorized it. However, Lena said that there was no miscommunication between Feinstein and Financial Aid.
Feinstein Institute falls under Lena’s jurisdiction as vice president of Academic Affairs. When it became apparent that Feinstein was not going to be able to stay within its annual budget Lena had scheduled a meeting to discuss the options Feinstein had. The work study budget has already been increased by $20,000 over the last two years.
For the 2009-10 academic year the total allotment for work study was $94,000. The College receives money from the federal government for work study, but the money from the federal government is usually not enough to meet the work study need. Thus, it contributes some of its own funds to work study. Too many students were approved for off-campus work study this year which caused the financial situation in Feinstein Institute.
“To this day I don’t know how many students have been hired,” said Lena.
In order to remedy the situation Lena is going to have to take money from another source on campus and add it to Feinstein’s budget.
“I don’t know exactly how much money I am going to need to get,” said Lena.
He is also not sure from where he is going to take the extra funds. He said one possibility may be to take money from the College’s contingency fund, which is reserved for financial aid.
“I hate to take money away from need based aid and put it towards work study, but I might have to do that,” said Lena.
Another possibility he is exploring is reassessing all work study budgets on campus. Any on campus work study allotments which have not been completely distributed will be given to Feinstein for off-campus work study. There is some doubt as to the funds left over in other on-campus work study budgets will be enough to make up for the deficit Feinstein is experiencing.
“I will use work study money that is in another budget first but I know that I won’t have enough so I’m going to have to go somewhere else,” said Lena.
However, Lena does not want students to think of work study as an “open check book.”
“The bottom line here is that we all have budgets,” said Lena.
In order for all work study providers to stay on budget it is important that students do not attempt to earn more money than they were allotted.
Steps are now being taken to ensure that a deficit such as this does not happen again. Lena said the person who is in charge of approving students for off-campus work study approved too many. The responsibility for approving students will now reside directly with Feinstein. Lena wants Sickinger to be more involved in the process and have more responsibility for the process than he has in the past.
“For me the logical place to keep this is with Feinstein,” said Lena.
Students do not have to worry about any delay in receiving their paychecks. Lena said they will continue to receive paychecks for their off-campus work study jobs as long as they turn in timesheets.
Lena explained that what he will have to do is “take out a loan,” and the budget for off-campus work study will have to be balanced at the end of the year. He said that he understands that many students depend on off-campus work study and that Feinstein Institute is an important instrument for reaching out to the community.
Sickinger is working closely with Lena to remedy the deficit, as is Oliveira.
According to Oliveira, seven percent of all federal work study money is earmarked specifically for off-campus work study. She said that Feinstein can only use the federal money allocated for work study because it employs students off campus. Normally between 50 and 60 students are approved for off-campus jobs.