On-campus student work hours increase

Broke college student. These three words are what just about every college student uses to describe themselves. Between paying for books, everyday items and the rising costs of tuition, college students are resorting to taking out more student loans. More student loans equals more student debt.

After listening to student opinions about the rising cost of college, Oakland University administration decided to try and combat this by increasing the number of hours students can work on campus. After creating a task force composed of OU alumni, administrators and staff, it was decided to increase the student work hours from 20 to 25 hours a week during the academic year and keep it to 40 hours a week during break periods and the summer.

This is not the first time student work hours have been set to 25 hours a week. Students with an on campus job could work 25 hours a week until the administration decided to decrease the hours in April 2016 in order to stay in accordance with the Affordable Care Act and U.S. Immigration and Customs legislation regarding international students.

“Around 10 years ago we weren’t following the policy and informally students were permitted to work up to 25 hours a week, but we stopped at 25,” said Greg Jordan, director of University Recreation and Well-Being. “When the Affordable Care Act was passed there is also a piece of that that says if an individual works so many hours during a year they are really considered an employee and should be offered healthcare benefits.”

The idea for looking into increasing student work hours came about from various conversations Vice President of Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh had with OU students. Students were taking out more student loans and getting a second job off campus in order to pay for their schooling. This became a concern for McIntosh.

“For me it becomes an issue that goes back to student retention and student success,” he said. “I think I have a philosophy that if we can keep students on campus and keep them engaged with our faculty and staff, students are more apt to make connections to do well in the classroom, get involved in student organizations and leadership positions, and have a better college experience.”

After listening to students and reviewing the Affordable Care Act,  the task force found students working 25 hours a week during the academic year did not violate any federal legislation.

“I think the Affordable Care Act set some parameters as far as the number of total work hours for a specified period of time,” McIntosh said. “So, when we looked at that law and actually looked at the data of how many hours on average our students were working for a year we found out that our students weren’t coming close to that threshold amount.”

Jordan encourages students to find jobs on campus because on campus employers are more understanding of student needs.

“We understand students,” Jordan said about on campus employers. “Employers on campus know and understand the rigors that students have and the demands that students have and we adjust. Where the job down the street and an outside employer they don’t care in general.”

OU students will be able to work 25 hours a week starting fall 2018.