The minimum-wage rate is expected to increase to $15 an hour for all Plattsburgh State employees, as well as all other SUNY employees, by 2021. This raise will also apply to student workers and work-study participants on campus.
As of right now, the lowest starting hourly rate for a PSUC worker is $13.09, according to an email sent by PSUC Director of Marketing and Communication Ken Knelly. This does not include work-study participants, although they do make at least minimum wage.
“This state thrives when every New Yorker has the opportunity and the ability to succeed. Yet the truth is that today’s minimum wage still leaves far too many people behind – unacceptably condemning them to a life of poverty even while they work full-time,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in the State of the State address.
The rate increase is set to take place in increments over the next five years, with the minimum wage rate set at $10.75 per hour starting Dec. 31, 2016. The wage rate will increase on that date each year by one dollar per hour, until July 2021, when it reaches $15 per hour.
Gov. Cuomo said in his speech that the raise will benefit over 28,000 SUNY workers, with over 2,100 of those workers employed in the North Country region.
The program allows students easy access to an income, while still being able to focus on academic endeavors. PSUC understands that classes sometimes take priority in students’ lives.
“We understand that you’re here for education first, so if we get a call saying, ‘I can’t come in today, I have to study for a test,’ it is okay, we can work around it,” PSUC Financial Aid Director Todd Moravec said.
The Financial Aid Office helps, alongside the Career Services Center, to manage and oversee the work study program at PSUC.
Each year, the department is allotted a budget specifically for work study programs and the payroll, according to Moravec.
The federal government provides $378,442 per year and New York State provides about $100,000 per year. Because the department is given a budget, there is a “certain amount of slots” available for work study programs, Moravec said.
“A limited pot means limited jobs,” he said.
With this allotted budget, it is possible that less work study jobs will be offered or fewer students will be hired to make up for the wage increase.
There are two types of on-campus jobs for students, one of which is work study, and the second is arranged through the college as temporary service. The necessary work-study positions that might face a cut might be transferred to the college as temporary service employment and still open to students.
“I wish the federal government would increase our work-study wage rate, so we would not have to reduce the number of work-study jobs,” Moravec said.
Work-study students are allowed to work a maximum of ten hours per week, for up to 30 weeks per academic year. Moravec estimates that with the $15 minimum, students can expect to make an extra $300.
Moravec said roughly one in every four students who are offered a work-study job accept the offer.
For work-study students, this could be a helpful way to earn more money while balancing classes and college life.
One of those students is nursing student Jillian Bruschi, a freshman. Bruschi is a research desk assistant in the Feinberg Library. Bruschi said she makes $9.75 an hour and works roughly 13 hours per week.
She said that while the $9.75-per-hour rate is better than it used to be, it may not be enough to help students who are earning money to help reduce their student loans.
“The raise is a really good idea to help students,” Bruschi said, “It’s a good way to come out with less debt.”
Bruschi said she would recommend the work-study program to students because it has allowed her to work while still focusing on her academic schedule.
“I definitely recommend the work-study program, especially in the library,” Bruschi said. “If we have down time, we can study or do homework; it meshes well with school work.”
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