Beginning in September, Yale will reduce its wage subsidy for student jobs.
Under the University’s current wage subsidy program, the Provost’s Office funds 50 percent of the wages for most student jobs on campus, while units and departments fund the other 50 percent. But this policy will change at the beginning of the 2014-’15 academic year, when the subsidy program will only apply to full-time Yale College students who qualify for need-based financial aid and are earning $15 per hour or less, according to an email from an assistant in the Provost’s Office obtained by the News. While Provost Benjamin Polak said the University is changing the policy to focus its resources toward students on financial aid, department chairs interviewed said they believe the funding reductions are motivated by the University’s efforts to close its budget deficit.
“From 2014-’15 onward, therefore, we will restrict the wage subsidy to Yale College students with demonstrated financial need working in student jobs that pay $15 per hour or less,” Provost Benjamin Polak said in an email. “In short, we are focusing all the resources available for the student-wage subsidy to be for Yale College students with demonstrated financial need in standard student jobs.”
Polak said the University’s wage subsidy program was originally conceived to encourage departments to create jobs for Yale College students with demonstrated financial need, but has since evolved to become available to a much wider range of students within the University, regardless of their school or financial status. As a result, Yale College students on financial aid lost their advantage in getting jobs, he said.
“This undermined the very purpose of the program,” Polak said.
Dean Mary Miller said she believes the subsidy reductions will return the program to its original form.
Polak said on-campus jobs are particularly important for Yale College students with demonstrated financial need because their financial aid package has a self-help expectation that requires them to earn income during term time.
“Extra efforts will be made to hire students eligible for the 50-50 split that is, students on financial aid,” Miller said.
Polak said capping the salary eligible for the subsidy program at $15 per hour will not put a cap on student wages. Though the Provost’s Office will no longer subsidize those highly paid jobs, employers can and will continue to post jobs available to all students at higher wages, he said.
The $15 subsidy cap will also not affect the majority of student jobs, Polak added. Of the 63 on-campus jobs currently listed at the student employment website, all but three pay $15 per hour or less, and of those three only one would have been eligible for the wage subsidy under current rules, he said.
Miller echoed Polak’s statement, adding that many current jobs were never covered by the wage subsidy program, including research assistant and master’s aide positions.
Department chairs interviewed said they are unsure how the new policy will affect their ability to employ students.
University Librarian Susan Gibbons said it was her understanding that the student wage program was being changed due to financial constraints. Though Gibbons said the reductions of the student wage subsidy would not have a significant impact on Sterling and Bass libraries because most of their students workers would qualify for the new wage match program, she added that the Divinity School and Medical School libraries employ a high percentage of graduate students who will not qualify under the new policy, which will subsidize only undergraduates.
To compensate for reduced funding from the Provost’s Office, the fiscal 2015 budgets for the libraries include increased student employment funding, Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the Yale University Library, which hired 389 students this academic year, is still adjusting to the existing student wage program.
“It was only within the last two years that the Library started receiving any reimbursement for student wages, and therefore the various library budgets had not yet fully adjusted to the 50-50 reimbursements,” Gibbons said. “So essentially some of our libraries’ student budgets are just going back to what had been the status quo for many years.”
Jock Reynolds, the director of the Yale University Art Gallery, said the Art Gallery and the School of Drama will be hit especially hard by the new policy. According to Reynolds, the Art Gallery currently employs 135 paid undergraduate and graduate student employees with compensation ranges from $13 to $26 per hour.
Still, Reynolds said he is confident the Gallery will be able to convince some of its loyal donors to support employment opportunities for all Yale students seeking paid work in the museum, regardless of their economic circumstances.
“The inherent value of acknowledging and supporting the full array of economic diversity [in existence] among our student body is something President Salovey spoke about eloquently during his address to this year’s freshman class when it assembled in Woolsey Hall last fall,” Reynolds said in an email. “I well remember his remarks, as do many others who have kept them in mind.”
Ronald Breaker, the chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department, said changes in federal grant funding are expected to have a greater impact to undergraduate employment in the department than changes in the wage match program.
Other department chairs interviewed were unaware of the changes in student employment subsidies.
John Krystal, chair of the department of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, said this was the first he had heard of any changes.
Three students employed by the University interviewed said they were unaware of the wage match program.
The current minimum wage for student jobs is $12 per hour.