By Olivia Walters, Staff Writer
Each year, an updated cost of attendance figure is posted on Furman’s website, indicating that the cost has risen and may continue to rise in the future. The 2016-2017 estimated total turned out at just under $64,000. For those worrying about the bill, student employment may be an answer to meeting the high cost associated with a Furman education.
Student jobs come in all forms, from hosting at the Paddock through Bon Appétit, manning the ITS desk in the library, helping out as a student assistant with academic departments or even working at the Furman Farm. All of the different jobs have different wages.
Between 300 and 400 students at Furman qualify for Federal Work-Study, a program that allows students with financial need to work part-time while working towards a degree, although some choose not to take advantage of their eligibility for personal reasons. Whether declared as FWS or a regular institutional employee, all student workers are acting under a commendable sense of motivation in wanting to offset the university’s steep tuition rate.
According to Katie Egan, class of ‘13 and employee in the Student Employment Office, Furman aims to make working on campus a complementary learning experience. “Our cost of attendance is a little bit higher than peer institutions, so Furman employers are really good about making sure that their student employment opportunities are really developmental,” Egan said.
The Student Employment Office is also sensitive to potential student anxiety when it comes to paying for college. One way to alleviate this concern is to offer FWS eligible students a one-week advantage to job listings before non-eligible students have access to them. When asked if certain departments favor FWS students, Egan argued that she “would like to help them as opposed to one that might be more financially prepared.”
Some jobs, such as the America Reads/America Counts community service program, are tailored uniquely toward FWS students, while others are independent from financial need and are solely based on student qualification.
Every on-campus department is managed differently and is allocated a student employment budget line. Wages start at $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum, for certain jobs, but Egan says that the amount of pay is entirely budget-oriented. Typically, jobs that require more training are higher paid, but as long as they start at minimum wage, there is no institutional policy in place solidifying a relationship between the type of work and the resulting pay.
However, it is certain that employers are encouraged to grant students merit-based raises. Egan said that hiring managers are reminded to keep in consideration students having worked multiple years within a job when reviewing their budget.
Director Tony McGuirt, director at the Younts Conference Center, disclosed that students working at the concierge desk and in the summer programs are paid above minimum wage, with the possibility to annually earn higher pay “as students stay with us and continue to enhance their skills and knowledge of the job.”
After working at Younts for almost two years, Chelsey Dawson, class of ‘17, has gained personal and professional experience while working at the concierge desk and in overseeing events. “I have been able to learn the ins and outs of a lot of different software and also a lot of skills from all the connections the job has given me,” she said.
For Trey Robinson, the Student Manager of the Younts Summer Program and defensive back for the Furman football team, an added perk is that the administration inspires workers to “stay on and continue to work hard to receive a yearly raise.” He has been there for three years and enjoys the laid-back environment where he is improving his professional networking abilities.
While there are monetary benefits to working in the conference center, other groups on campus that hire students have yet to respond to the subject of student pay.