University News

Student wages increase 3 percent

By
Staff Writer
Monday, March 12, 2012

The wages of on-campus student employees will increase by 3 percent starting the next fiscal year, based on a recommendation the University Resources Committee approved last month.

The wage increase – a routine activity to ensure students are being paid as much as possible – makes it easier for students on financial aid to fulfill their work-study expectations or campus employment programs while only working eight to 12 hours a week, said James Tilton, director of financial aid. The increase also responds to both state and federal minimum wages, which can increase from year to year.

“We like to be ahead of the curve with that,” said Tracy Frisone, senior assistant director of financial aid. Currently, the University’s minimum wage is $8.45 per hour, while Rhode Island’s is $7.40 per hour and the country’s is $7.25 per hour.

Mark Schlissel P’15, provost and URC chair, said the committee decided to approve this request as education grows more expensive.

“Students are being called upon to contribute more and more to either the cost of their education or the extra cost of their living while they’re on campus,” Schlissel said. 

Madeline Borges ’15, who works for the University libraries, said her wage is “pretty good given what (she’s) doing” but that she is still happy about the increase due to what she called the high living costs in Providence.

Christopher Farrow ’15, who works for Brown University Dining Services, said he found the increase to be more of a positive statement than something that will affect his everyday life.

“I think it’s great for workers that they are willing to pay us more, and it is appropriate that it is above minimum wage,” he said. “But, from a monetary standpoint, 3 percent is kind of penny pinching at this point.”

Tilton said student workers are generally satisfied with their wages and that there are rarely requests for wage increases. “That is part of our responsibility – to oversee these things and make sure that our students are being paid appropriately,” he said.

Though the Office of Financial Aid, which is in charge of student employment, does not have statistics regarding how student employees spend their earnings, Tilton said he assumes students typically spend their money on personal expenses rather than tuition.

Frisone said this is especially true for students who have a work component in their financial aid package, a group that makes up between 50 and 60 percent of student workers. In these cases, she said, the work-study component is meant to cover student’s indirect expenses – those not billed directly by the University – such as books, personal items and travel expenses.

Both Borges and Farrow said they use their wages for such expenses, but “it wouldn’t really be reasonable to ask students to live off of what they get from BUDS,” Farrow said.