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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Off-campus work study may receive federal approval

    Arizona students involved in work-study programs could receive paychecks from off-campus employers next year – if the program survives its second attempt at passing through the state Legislature in January, said a local lawmaker.

    House Bill 2626 would allow employers to create part-time jobs related to virtually any major for university and community college students, subsidized by $5 million in state funds, said Rep. Ted Downing, a Democrat.

    “”We’re trying to match-make Arizona students and companies,”” said Downing, who is also a UA research professor in social development.

    Students could work up to 20 hours at positions created specifically for them. The bill forbids employers from replacing any existing workers with those in the program.

    State monies would match employer funds, netting students between 75 and 100 percent of the wages a regular employee would receive for the same position, according to the bill.

    “”My intention is that current UA students will be the beneficiaries,”” said Downing. “”That’s what happens when you get a professor making laws.””

    The bill sailed through the state House of Representatives when it was introduced earlier this year – only to be “”stubbed”” in the Senate due to funding and support issues, said Downing.

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said she is confident that, despite the project’s initial stumble, students will be able to use the program to decrease their reliance on student loans and strengthen their resumes by next fall.

    “”This is a flawless program that I think is going to be a top priority for the Legislature,”” said Hertzog, who helped resurrect the bill. “”What it brings back to this state’s economy is going to be very valuable.””

    Arizona’s business community has shown “”tremendous support”” in joining the ranks of 18 other states that fund employee mentoring of their students, said Tucson Chamber of Commerce Vice President John Dougherty.

    “”The idea is to keep best and brightest in state and to prevent brain drain,”” said Dougherty. “”It would have been money in the pocket for students, but partisanship killed it.””

    Funding priority will be given to students who have previously been in foster care and those whose job placement corresponds to their majors, according to the bill. Graduate students would also be considered, if sufficient funds are available.

    The UA pays out $17 million to students who work on campus, with $2.2 million coming from federal work-study subsidies, said John Nametz, the director of student financial aid.

    UA organizations that rely on work-study participants – like the Financial Aid Office, where students perform 30 percent of the full-time equivalent labor – won’t go understaffed if the HB 2626 passes, said Nametz.

    “”Our positions are still worthwhile,”” said Nametz. “”They’re real jobs that provide major resume opportunities.””

    Forty-seven percent of employed students work off campus, while 44 percent work on campus, according to the 2006 campus climate survey conducted by the Dean of Students Office. The remaining 9 percent work both on and off campus.

    While all parties involved expect overwhelming student support of the project, Josh Martin, a neuroscience graduate student, questioned politics’ role in finding work for students.

    “”It’s good to give (students) jobs that are better than they get here. I don’t see why the state should have to do it,”” said Martin.

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