Federal Work Study Payment Complications Addressed

By, Zoe DeFazio, Josh Grewal, Victor Franco, Staff Writers

Some Manhattan College’s Federal Work Study student employees have experienced delays in payments for their work hours during this semester.

Federal Work Study supplies undergraduate and graduate students with part-time jobs that permit students to earn money for personal or academic expenses. Students can use these positions to gain general work experience, as well as expertise in their desired field of study.

Densie Scalzo, director of the financial aid administration, discussed the role the financial aid office played in the late payment of students.

“Financial aid looks over student employment. The Federal Work Study is on a FAFSA based package. Students can apply online. Once students start working they need to put their hours online and submit their time sheets. Once that is submitted then everything needs to be checked for payroll,” Scalzo said.

Scalzo states that the late payment of students may have correlation with Manhattan College starting later than usual.

“Manhattan College started later than usual. We began in the fourth week of August when we usually begin in the second week. Because of that, the time sheets were not accurate,” Scalzo said.

The late start of the college’s 2021 academic year led to a time discrepancy for payroll within Manhattan College’s Federal Work Study (FWS). While the late start is a main source of the payment delays, other factors, including social responsibility, also contribute to the confusion. In turn, students are reminded to report their work hours so that they properly get compensated.

Jessica Salliard, a FWS student, commented on her compensation issues during the recent months.

“I was not paid until September 30th, when I started working again at the end of August. For that first month my bosses were not communicating the problem to us, so I was extremely confused as to why I had not been paid yet. When they finally sent out paychecks on September 30th, it only covered the first two weeks of my work, it did not fully reimburse me for the past month,” Salliard wrote.

Salliard then continued to discuss the personal issues that followed the pay inconsistency.

“This issue caused a lot of stress for me. I have bills to pay, and I was not able to pay them for a month, and then my first paycheck wasn’t the amount I needed to catch up on all of my bills. This caused a chain effect that I’m still trying to clean up presently,” Salliard wrote.

Salliard believes the issue with payment stems from system complications from COVID-19.

“I think a little domino effect led to this issue. I think COVID led to a smaller number of students attending college and living on campus, which meant Manhattan College wasn’t receiving the amount of money they are accustomed to, which leads to financial troubles, and finally results in the student workers fighting to get a paycheck,” she wrote.

Despite conflicts, Salliard continues to work on campus and hopes in the future there will be more communication from the college.

“I wouldn’t like to go through this exact process again, where I’m not paid for a month. However, even if I knew this would happen, I’d still start working in August at the same job. I don’t have many other options, and in the end I’m still getting paid the proper amount; but even a little bit more communication from the school could have kept that month from getting as stressful as it did.”

Rabea Ali, assistant director of work-study, commented on other possible issues that could have caused the delays and the other possibilities of how the college’s FWS students had yet to receive their payment.

“Financial aid coordinates the process of FWS, and we deal with a lot of paperwork. Students should make sure they fill out their respective timesheets,” Ali said. “It is most likely the discrepancy that the students don’t complete the right paperwork and the payroll is every two weeks.”

Ali recommends that FWS students consistently check and submit their timesheets in a timely manner to ensure proper payment.

Werner Habermann, senior assistant director of financial aid operations, weighed in to address financial aid’s goals for assisting students in their responsibilities with timesheets, and their potential to prevent another payroll issue.

“There will always be room for improvement,” Habermann said. “Everything is electronic now. Three years ago it was all manual and we are now transferring online. We are happy to listen to recommendations but for the most part, the directions are straightforward.”

The financial aid administration will be holding a FWS orientation in January to guide students through FAFSA, timesheets and everything in between in hopes to ensure a smoother transition.

Angella Gallegos, a junior communications major at Manhattan College that works under Federal Work Study states that despite complications, working with FWS is a good experience.

“The pay is really good and it’s convenient to stay on campus and work but sometimes it is really inconvenient because the pay period is biweekly,” Gallegos said.

Gallegos even recommends FWS jobs to other students.

“ I always tell my friends to get a job at Federal Work Study when positions are available because you don’t have to commute anywhere,” she said.

Despite conflicts throughout this semester, the financial aid office and the work study program is looking towards providing help to students and further resolving any issues.

“Reach out. We are here to help clarify,” says Ali.