Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Student Employment at Risk in Jobs Bill

While most of us were in the midst of cramming for exams and drinking countless cups of coffee to stay awake last December, the House of Representatives passed the Jobs for Main Street Act. According to the Web site of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the goal of the bill is to create and save jobs at home with leftover funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Investments in highways, education, small businesses and job training are among the list of targeted areas that would benefit from the bill’s estimated allocation of $75 million.

The allotment of $300 million to support the Federal Work Study program is the most salient aspect of the bill for college students. The distribution of these funds is significant because many schools are currently at risk of receiving less funding for the program than in years past. Pelosi’s Web site suggests that the bill’s work-study provision would enable 250,000 students to stay in school.

For Georgetown students receiving work-study aid, the Jobs for Main Street Act is highly valuable to their enrollment at the university. Georgetown’s undergraduate bulletin explains that more than 1,000 students each year are employed under the Federal Work Study Program. The House’s legislation is a positive step to ensure the continued employment of students whose financial situations would make it otherwise difficult to attend the university.

The fate of the bill, however, is uncertain. After it passed in the lower chamber of Congress, the legislation has been stalled in the Senate. Rather than reworking the current bill, the Senate has ignored the content of the House’s measure and proceeded to draft its own. Notably, mention of the Federal Work Study program is absent from the Senate’s bill.

In a time when many families are struggling financially and the cost of a college education is on the rise, the Senate’s exclusion of work-study funding is unacceptable. Since the students who benefit from this program are considered to be in financial need, receiving work-study can often be a critical factor when they consider a school’s affordability. The Senate’s decision to ignore the House’s distribution of funds means that its bill would leave many students without crucial opportunities for financial aid.

For universities across the country, the $300 million from the House’s Jobs for Main Street Act is vital to the continuance of federal work-study on campus. In the past few years, many universities have seen a decline in the number of work-study positions available. At Georgetown, for example, the number of work-study jobs has decreased by about 10 percent. In the 2003-2004 academic year, over 2,000 positions were available; today, about 1,800 are provided.

The exclusion of work-study funding from the bill runs counter to its larger goal of reducing the nation’s dismal unemployment rate. If the current draft of the Senate bill were to pass, then more college students would become unemployed. The upper chamber’s decision to ignore the text of the Jobs on Main Street Act undermines the value of student employment.

In today’s tough economic climate, it is more vital than ever to have a college degree. The Senate’s jobs bill must include funding for work-study in order to ensure the continued enrollment of students who could otherwise not afford to pursue a higher education. Students can make a difference by calling or e-mailing their senators’ offices to express their support for Federal Work Study funding. Spreading the word about the program’s importance could light a fire under the Senate and compel them to draft a new bill. If students don’t mobilize from the ground up, however, it is likely that they will ultimately lose out.

Bethany Imondi is a freshman in the College.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *