To: The Wellesley Community
From: Piper Orton, Vice President for Finance and Administration, and Joy St. John, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid
Re: Follow-up to Student Employment Announcement
Date: April 2, 2020
We understand that there have been a number of questions from the community in response to the announcement last weekend about the status of student employment in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. We are writing to provide additional information and context about that decision, in particular regarding the federal work-study program and student employment supported by Wellesley College.
We have approved approximately 750 student positions for the remainder of the semester, and we sent notices to those students whose jobs have been approved and to their supervisors.
We have limited the number of remaining positions because some work on campus previously performed by students no longer needs to be done, and other work can be performed by administrative staff who now have the capacity to take on additional responsibilities due to the shift to remote work and instruction; the approved positions are for work that can best be done by students. While some students who want to continue working remotely will be able to do so, we understand the impact on those students who cannot continue working.
Financial aid in general, and work-study jobs in particular, have a significant effect on students’ ability to meet their living and personal expenses. We have provided prorated refunds to students for room and board. Additionally, we guaranteed that all students who left campus this spring would receive a minimum credit of $1,500, even if their payments to Wellesley so far this year were well below that amount. The minimum credit offers emergency assistance to help students receiving significant financial aid cover unexpected expenses, such as for food, housing, technology, or health care.
Students who remain on campus will not receive a refund as they continue to require room and board. Those students with approved jobs can continue to work to meet their personal expenses. However, students receiving significant financial aid who remain on campus and are not eligible to work in an approved job will receive a $300 credit to assist with personal expenses beyond room and board.
In making these decisions, we have tried to find a solution that supports our students and meets the employment needs of the College.
Here is some additional information related to work-study at Wellesley:
How is work-study at the College funded?
Funds from the federal work-study program are given in a lump sum to colleges and universities based on the collective federal work-study eligibility of their student bodies. These funds are not earmarked for individual students, unlike federal entitlement programs such as Pell Grants.
Wellesley spent $1.7 million on work-study wages for the 2018–2019 academic year, of which $321,000 came from the federal government. Federal work-study funds make up only 19 percent of the total amount Wellesley provides in work-study wages over the course of an academic year. At this point in the current academic year, our federal work-study funding has long been exhausted, and the College funds all student work-study wages.
What will happen with students still on campus who receive significant financial aid but whose jobs were not approved?
We recognize that some of these students may have held student jobs that have ended. They will receive a $300 credit to cover personal expenses that they might have otherwise covered with work-study earnings.
How is work-study calculated as part of a financial aid offer?
A student’s financial aid offer may include grant dollars, which are guaranteed funds to help offset a student’s cost of attendance. The difference between the cost of attendance and the amount of grant aid is called the net price. Each year, Wellesley provides families with suggested ways to fund the net price, such as student loans, expected work-study earnings, expected student earnings in the summer, and a parent contribution. Suggested work-study earnings are not guaranteed funds earmarked for individual students.
Will lower federal work-study earnings this year affect my financial aid package for next year?
While federal work-study earnings are reported to the government, earning a lower amount than suggested in a financial aid offer will not have a negative impact on a student’s eligibility in the future.