*News* Cynthia Marie Ford- Staff Writer
A change is coming next semester for students who work on campus, including those who work for the Office of Residential Life and Housing. Because campus regulations enforce that students work no more than 20 hours a week at a specific job location, and because the implementation of the Afford-able Care Act requires workers to be provided with healthcare if they are full-time (more than 20 hours a week), many students find themselves frustrated, battling to make enough to stay afloat financially without overextending themselves. This is especially true for the student workers of Residential Life and Housing, which up until this point have been compensated through scholarships of up to $3,000 per semester. But now that their scholarships are no longer in place beginning summer 2015, it leaves these students asking, “why?”
According to Jonathan Lidgus, Director of Residential Life and Housing for the Uni-versity of Missouri—St. Louis, this change has come due to a variety of reasons. As mentioned before, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and restrictions on the number of hours that students are able to work on campus are two very important reasons for the change.
Although the 20-hour maximum hours available for student workers has always been in effect, ACA, a relatively new limitation, seems to add even more pressure to this restriction. And although ACA seems to be an advantage for full-time workers, for those working at jobs with lower salaries and less full-time positions available, it is simply a vicious cycle. They find themselves with less hours as employers attempt to avoid the
costs for insuring full-timers, which means less money for those employees. So to compensate they end up taking multiple part-time jobs, where they do not receive the same benefit of “free” health insurance as those working full-time. Some would argue that these restrictions are barriers especially for college students, and that these employers are not looking out for the best interests of the employee.
So what do these restrictions have to do with the housing scholarships? It was also noted that a number of students working in Residential Life were swapping a great deal of hours, and some students were not meeting the minimum requirement of 15 hours a week as stipulated.
As a way to simplify matters and ensure the amount of hours worked by each person, the decisions were made to end scholarship funding for housing and allow students to make an hourly rate. As Residential Life continues to move the majority of their assistants to this rate, there is still the question of how it benefits students.
With the limitation on hours worked, students may have time to experience other jobs on campus, whereas before students of Residential Life were required to work a minimum of 15 hours per week. This could also mean that students who do not reside at UMSL residential halls will feel more inclined to work there, although some residential students feel more comfortable when dealing with workers who actually live in the residential halls and seem to have more accountability for what takes place there.
Nevertheless, with the decline of housing scholarships, many other scholarships will become available in other areas. In addition, with the removal of the scholarship incentive and implementation of hourly rates, students who do not live on campus could possibly have more reason to apply to Residential Life. Lidgus states that there actually may be more money to be made hourly than through the scholarship, and that now “students have the flexibility of choosing where to spend their money” instead of the funds going directly to housing.
These changes could be perceived in very different ways. Some may see this as an opportunity to have some of their hard-earned money remain in their hands. This could be a potential problem if the student allocates the money for other purposes and did not budget enough for rent. Some see this as an opportunity to earn additional money and have control of their own money, while others may feel constrained and fear they may not be able to earn enough at university part-time jobs to make their housing payments. While there are two sides to this issue, students should conduct their own research and be aware of all the changes.