When Work and School Collide: The Status of Work-Study

By Jenny Davis and Matthew Wollock (Contributing Writer and Opinion Editor of the Wesleyan Argus)

Below is an excerpt of an article originally published in the Wesleyan Argus ( for full article click here ) on one of our Kai Branding Team Members, Aidan Martinez. Aidan has been a vocal advocate for low-income students here on campus and has been committed to making opportunities here at Wesleyan truly accessible to all. 

Last year, Aidan Martinez ’17 held three jobs on campus. During one period, he worked over 20 hours per week.

To put this in perspective, a typical academic schedule at Wesleyan University entails 10 to 12 hours of class per week, meaning that Martinez, a work-study student, spent nearly twice as much time at work as he did in class.

“I worked in New Media Lab, the Wesleyan Media Project, [and] the Bennet Res Life office, so I had to really juggle these things around,” Martinez said.

The University’s Financial Aid website explains why it is beneficial to employers to hire students with work-study eligibility.

“Federal Work-Study is a campus-based employment program that is subsidized by federal funds,” reads the University’s Financial Aid website. “Students that are eligible are allocated a specific amount of work-study that they can earn and apply to the cost of their education. 50 percent of a student’s wages are paid by these federal funds. So, for example, if a student is paid $9.00/hour, [the employer] would be responsible for $4.50/hour and the federal government would pay the remaining $4.50/hours up until you exhaust your work-study allotment.”

John Gudvangen, Director of Financial Aid, explained that the University does not place a limit on the number of hours students can work per week (although any student on a Visa is not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week by law). Instead, the University offers a maximum work-study allotment of $1375 per semester. Students may earn that sum at their desired pace.

Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Title IX Officer Antonio Farias estimates that 1,000 students work up to 20 hours per week, but he recognizes that some students work beyond their work-study schedules.

“We don’t give that much work-study,” Farias said. “You’re supposed to have a max of about 20 work-study hours [per week]. But that doesn’t stop students from getting another job at the local pub or something. So they’ll do 15 or 20 hours here, and then get a job there, and it never comes on our radar.”

According to Martinez, Farias determined last year that nearly 80 students work above the recommended 20-hour limit, with some working up to 40 hours in a single week.

To read rest of article at the Wesleyan Argus click here.