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At the end of this academic year, Principia’s Tuition Reduction Work Program (TRWP), a grant that matches student earnings up to $500 a quarter, will be discontinued. The money will instead go toward regular student grant programs.
The purpose of this change is to give students the freedom to make contributions to their education according to their individual schedules and preferences rather than being required to work seven and a half hours a quarter, as well as to provide greater equity in the employment process for all students.
Dean of Enrollment Management Brian McCauley and Director of Financial Aid Tami Gavaletz, along with Director of Administration and Budget Karen Grimmer and Student Employment Coordinator Laura Williams-Saucedo have been working on this change since fall quarter in order to “meet each family’s need in a more efficient way,” said McCauley.
Some students cannot fit enough work hours into a busy quarter or find jobs that fit their schedule. Therefore, these students do not receive the full $500 grant from Principia, but only a matching of the sum they earned. “You took a hit if you had a really busy quarter and couldn’t work enough hours,” McCauley said.
Also, many students find employment during the breaks so that they do not need to work during the quarter. “This way, we’re looking at a 52-week time,” said McCauley. “If they can earn a lot over the summer instead, they can do that. … It’s a free market solution, each individual can decide what works best for them.”
According to McCauley, Principia will not give out less money, but rather put those funds toward the continuing grant program.
Equity in student employment was another aspect that Gavaletz and McCauley took into consideration. Due to their requirement to work to receive the grant, students on TRWP were given a headstart to sign up for jobs at the end of the quarter. In addition, TRWP students were given an extra day at the beginning of every quarter to find a job. Under the new system, “nobody gets priority on jobs, it’s a level playing field for all students,” said McCauley.
“Students will have to be more on the ball,” Williams-Saucedo said, “[to] come when they’re supposed to come, be ready, have the skills, interview well, and have good work performances in previous jobs.”
McCauley said this system was designed decades ago when Principia was less generous with its financial aid. Now, “it is burdensome in many ways and is no longer the best way to help today’s families,” he said: Principia’s increased generosity with its financial aid awards is one significant element that has changed since this program was initiated.
Currently, 140 out of approximately 300 to 350 student workers on campus are on TRWP. Student reactions to the change are mainly positive. “Discontinuing TRWP allows more people who want to work, to work,” junior Rigel Valentine pointed out. “TRWP forces people who don’t want to work.”
After asking all TRWP students if they would continue working even without the grant, every reply Williams-Saucedo received was affirmative. She said she encountered many non-TRWP students who are glad because they feel they will have a better chance of getting a job or getting the job that they want.
Senior Kateland Oakes said it is harder to find a job if you’re not on TRWP. “This first-come, first-serve just makes sense,” she said. “Also, people will be more appreciative of their jobs.”
Williams-Saucedo’s only concern from her side is that “the process of hiring is going to be more intense because before we had a staggered hiring system.”
Student Body Vice President Esteban Xifre also points out that international students as a whole were disadvantaged and couldn’t get enough hours or the job they wanted because they couldn’t be on TRWP due to visa restrictions. However, almost all international students do work, according to Williams-Saucedo.
Due to this change, the hiring process for fall quarter 2010 will begin during weeks 9 and 10 of this quarter. Since a lot of seniors will be graduating, there will be many job opportunities for new workers.