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UI work-study program to be spared from sequestration changes

BY STACEY MURRAY | APRIL 22, 2013 5:00 AM

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Despite national sequestration cuts, the University of Iowa work-study program funds won’t take a hit in the next academic year, much to the relief of both UI officials and students. Unfortunately, other sources of financial aid will.

Work-study is a form of federal financial aid offered to students who demonstrate financial aid on their FASFA forms. The government then allocates money to the university to pay for the wages of the students as they work on-campus jobs.

Sequestration, a measure taken by the federal government to mandate spending cuts in the budget, forced a cut in federal financial aid for students.

While the UI won’t face this particular issue, 27 fewer students will receive assistance through the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant.

“We’re fortunate we didn’t have any decreases in our work-study program,” said Mark Warner, the UI director of financial aid. “Unfortunately, it’s affecting our [Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant program], and [the program] will affect 27 fewer students.”

This $27,000 represents roughly a 5.8 percent cut. The budget allocated roughly $465,000 for the 2012-2013 academic year, but that number will drop to $437,000 for the 2013-2014 year.

Despite these cuts, the Pell Grant — the UI’s largest source of federal grant money — won’t see a dip in its funding, which Warner called “good news.”

The Pell Grant offers financial assistance to the neediest undergraduate students across the country; it did not undergo any cuts this year.

But officials find the conservation of the work-study program to be a plus for the university.

Cindy Seyfer, the director of student employment at UI Office of Student Financial Aid, estimates the UI has roughly 1,200 to 1,400 students on work-study per year. Currently, the UI has 1,413 students receiving this form of aid.

Warner said that each school in the country is different, and there is a complex government formula to determine the work-study aid provided to each school.

According to The Standard, Michigan State University will lose roughly $19,000 in work-study funds, and Indiana University will lose roughly $150,000 in cuts, according to Indiana Public Media.

Schools receiving the top cuts include New York University with a loss of $471,000 in work-study funds. In the Big Ten, the University of Michigan will see the largest decrease in work-study funding with roughly $255,000 being cut.

Had the university received less funding, it wouldn’t have been able to compensate for the allocations.

“Here, there really isn’t anything we can do,” Seyfer said. “It would simply mean fewer students would be able to be awarded [work-study].”

One UI freshman said her work-study opportunities hold value for students like her.

“It would definitely affect me [if I didn’t get work-study],” Sierra Smith said. “I’d try my best to find another job, and if I couldn’t find another one, I’d probably have to transfer.”

But since the budget release, both UI officials and students are relieved with the results.

“We’re not anticipating any changes,” Seyfer said. “And we’re grateful we didn’t receive cuts.”


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