Cuts squeeze student jobs

It took Tiffany Polk ’12 an entire semester during her freshman year to land a job at the circulation desk of the Sterling Memorial Library, and now, as departments scale back spending, the search for on-campus employment may become even more difficult.

“My job is very important to me, Polk said. “I could not support myself without it. I know the library has stopped hiring this semester but the idea that my job might be in jeopardy is really scary.”

Tiffany Polk ’12 said she will have to take out student loans if she can’t pick up more hours at her library job.
Tiffany Polk ’12 said she will have to take out student loans if she can’t pick up more hours at her library job.

Among the measures meant to recover a $100 million budget deficit, the University has increased the amount students must contribute toward their financial aid package from $2,600 to $3,000. As a result, students on financial aid must now work an extra hour a week to avoid taking out loans — which has become increasingly challenging as departments freeze hiring and cap work hours. Of the six students interviewed who currently work on campus, all expressed concern over whether they will be able to meet the new term work contribution.

Concerned about a possible job shortage, administrators said they are pursuing new hiring strategies. Since the fall, students on financial aid have gotten preference for jobs. But now, the Provost’s Office, which already subsidizes 50 percent of all student wages, may add additional funds to a department’s general operating budget if departments could not otherwise afford to offer enough jobs, Salovey said.

“We’re making sure we can provide campus jobs with priority for students on financial aid,” Provost Peter Salovey said Friday. “We’ll ensure any decrease in the number of student jobs doesn’t get below the critical point of meeting all demand.”

The Provost’s Office and the Student Financial Services Office are also considering implementing a two-week exclusive hiring period at the beginning of each semester, during which only students on financial aid can apply for on-campus employment, Caesar Storlazzi, Director of Student Financial Services said. This policy existed until a decade ago, when the University abolished it due to a lack of demand for employment.

The Student Employment Office saw a 10 percent drop in the number of working students between fall 2008 and fall 2009, and employment figures have remained stable this year compared to last, said Matthew Long, associate director of Financial Services. Currently, 3,405 undergraduate students work on campus, up slightly from the 3,223 students who worked at the same time last year, according to the Student Employment Office.

Still, a number of departments have already frozen hiring and work hours. While the University Library is still deciding how many students it will hire this fall, an increase in the number of work hours or jobs offered is unlikely, said Diane Turner, associate University librarian for human resources. As of October 2009, the library employed 310 students, compared with 356 the year before.

Likewise, the Office of Development, which employs a large number of student callers, does not plan to hire more students this year, said Douglas Hawthorne, Associate Vice President and Director of Information and Support Services.

At residential college master’s offices, hours are set in advance, so students wishing to work more hours may only do so by taking over other students’ work shifts, Silliman College administrative assistant Joanne Young said, adding that all slots in her office are currently filled.

The University’s efforts to protect student employment will be crucial for students such as Polk, who said she dreads being unable to find employment.

“To not know whether you will have enough money to pay for your course packets is a very stressful situation,” said Polk, who said her parents cannot afford to cover the costs of her college living expenses.

When she could not find a job as a freshman, Polk said, she took out student loans to cover her living expenses. And if she is unable to work extra hours to cover the increase in the self-help portion of her financial aid package, Polk said she may have no choice but to take out additional loans.

Other students also said they have had difficulty finding employment on campus as departments reduce hiring. Two weeks ago, Jarus Singh ’12 applied for a job at the Social Science Library only to find out a week later that the department had decided to revoke the opening, he said.

While Singh said he has found off-campus work at the WYBC radio station, Charlotte Wang ’12, who like Singh also receives financial aid, said she has been searching for a second job since last semester. At a recent interview with the Office of Development, 12 students competed for three job openings, Wang added.

“The market is pretty rough this semester,” she said.


  • yale11

    It’s true! I’ve been trying to land a student job for 5 months, and haven’t been able to… I need to pay my bills! For now it is just more loans.

  • jobless

    I applied for 20 (not exaggerating) jobs on campus this semester. And didn’t get a single one. So much for prioritizing students who are on financial aid.

  • Public college advocate

    On the other hand, you could transfer to UConn (or your local public university), save a bundle and still get a good education. After all, education is what you make of it, not where you happen to attend.

  • Staff

    As a parent of 2 high schoolers preparing to head to college, I am sympathetic to the plight of these students, but I hope the University doesn’t reinstate its policy of job preference for students on financial aid. I am a manager on central campus and in my 20 years of employing students workers, for some reason it’s been my experience that my best, most committed workers were always the ones NOT on financial aid. Coincidence, I’m sure, but the supervisors know their needs and should still have a say in who they may hire. I used to get around the policy by simply waiting out the 2 weeks, as I’m sure others did too. Unethical, maybe, but, like in the real world, our small office needs to rely on the best people the job, not necessarily the most “entitled.”

  • student

    If the university is going to require students from a certain income bracket to contribute to their own education, then the university has a responsibility to see that those students can get a job to do so. It’s virtually impossible to get a non-campus job as a student in New Haven, and no student should be forced into debt they can’t afford-to tell students that they must pay for their own expenses, but make it impossible for them to get a job, or hold enough hours, forces students to take on more debt than they can responsibly handle.

  • super

    or … make many of these loose-ends student jobs into full-time jobs for New Haven residents? Some student jobs require a certain level of academic training and can be seen as part of an apprenticeship (e.g. asst. to Beinecke curator, etc., etc.), but shelving books for 37.5 hours a week strikes me as a cynical way to get menial labor at cut-rate prices.

    Believe me, I know it’s tough to be short on money as an undergrad, but I promise you’d do better to adjust your loans and use those 10 hours a week to get better grades, network, fill out fellowship applications, whatever. Time’s on your side. Use it.

  • @#3

    While I don’t dispute that one can get a fine education at a public university, I know that I get more financial aid at Yale than I would have at my state school, simply because Yale has more to give. So if you can get into Yale, both the resources (great professors, fellowships, libraries, museums) and the financial aid make it a much more attractive option. You’re not saving a bundle at state school by any stretch of the imagination.

  • @#3


    For those of us on financial aid, Yale is considerably cheaper than attending a public university. Most of my friends from home are taking out big loans to pay for school; Yale has been working hard lately to eliminate the need for us to take out loans. And, though I’m sure I couldn’t convince you, where you attend makes a lot of difference if the place you’re attending is Yale.

  • @ #7

    Which is the state school in question?

  • ’94

    How many student jobs could Yale fund by cutting one or two senior administrative positions? How was it Yale was able to function 15 years ago with 30% less administration? Why is it, in an age of email and computer literacy, that Yale Departments and administrators retain clerical staff when, in the real world, these same administrators and faculty would type their own letters and answer their own phones to justify their pay?

  • @#10

    15 years ago, Yale was not undergoing the same amount of aggressive expansion to support the University’s mission as well as to pump money into the surrounding community (where do you think the money Yale spends on all its construction is going? a big chunk stays right here in New Haven with the construction workers) Levin is doing the right thing whether or not everyone can see or appreciate it.

  • ’11

    This is surprising to me – I’ve never had any difficulty finding a campus job, and i’ve had five different jobs since freshman year. Maybe people aren’t looking in the right places?

  • yalie

    @3, that might apply to middle to upper class families, but for as a student on substantial financial aid, attending Yale costs less for me than attending public school. Well, that’s not completing true, considering that I had all-expenses-paid offers to several UC schools, but on the whole, those on substantial aid find that well-endowed private schools can greatly offset the cost of attendance with very generous aid packages.

  • Recent Alum

    “Tiffany Polk ’12 said she will have to take out student loans if she can’t pick up more hours at her library job”

    Oh no! How horrible that she would have to take out LOANS!


  • Eli Who

    You know who’s not worried about losing their jobs? The people who lost billions in the endowment that led to these cuts in the first place. It’s always the little guys who did nothing wrong that suffer.

  • @14

    @14: the reporter completely misrepresented what Tiffany said. Lu was asking hypothetical questions, to which Tiffany responded that if she lost her job, she might have to take out loans. Not that WILL.

    Not everything you read is true. And Carmen Lu should be more careful about accurately representing her sources.

  • Yale ’12

    The whole ‘no loans all needs met’ thing is complete BS. I have a student job, and I take out $20,000 in loans per semester. Some students have to support themselves, and that’s just the way it goes.