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ISSUE 117 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/19/2003

State cuts work funds

By Krista Haagenstad
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 19, 2003

Students still looking for an on-campus job may find that it is much harder to locate one than in years past. Due to recent decreases in state funding, St. Olaf has been forced to make cuts to its student work program.

For students who qualify for work study, this may mean fewer hours available to them. But students who don’t qualify for work study may not be able to find a job at all.

The budget cuts have come as a result of the fiscal crisis experienced by the state of Minnesota. St. Olaf typically receives about $300,000 in work-study aid from the state.

However, last year St. Olaf received no state funding and this year, it will only receive about half the previous amount, or $160,000. The remainder of the approximately $2 million spent annually on work-study comes from federal and institutional funds.

Last year, the college made up the difference in work-study funding with its own money. But this year, the continued shortage means the college will have to spend less on its student work programs.

"We will continue to meet the full demonstrated need of all our students," said Kathy Ruby, financial aid director; therefore, no student’s financial aid package should be cut.

Instead, faculty and staff are attempting to cut the number of hours worked, not the number of people working. Every student who needs a job should be able to find one, but they may find fewer hours available to them. Also, each student will be limited to two on-campus jobs.

The cuts may have a bigger effect on students who don’t receive work-study. Those who held jobs in previous years will be able to continue at those positions. However, all other positions must be filled by work-study recipients.

The only exception to this rule is if the position requires special skills, such as knowledge of a foreign language or computer skills. If no work-study recipient is available who possesses those skills, a committee may review whether it is appropriate for a non-work study recipient to occupy that position.

According to Ruby, these cuts may cause students some problems on campus. For example, despite efforts to maintain levels of funding, the cuts may still put a strain on those depending on financial aid.

Also, having a job on campus is a good way for students to bond with the community and form relationships with faculty, staff and other students. Cutting back on student work programs may affect St. Olaf’s retention rate if fewer people are able to form these bonds.

Another problem may be that, with fewer student work hours, there are fewer workers in the offices and departments that serve the St. Olaf campus. For example, the office of residence life had to shorten the hours that the front desks at each hall are staffed in order to meet their budget.

"Hopefully, these cuts have been made in a way that will minimize the effects on all students," said Pamela Mannebach, director of residence life. However, with lessened service on campus, even non-work-study recipients may feel the pinch of budget cuts.

For those still looking for a job, don’t lose hope. Check the student work website:

New jobs are created and old positions open up all the time, so keep checking back for new postings. Students can also contact Cheryl Johnson, the Student Work Coordinator, at There is also a new "temporary work service" for students interested in short-term jobs.

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