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Sequestration may affect work-study

Under federal budget sequestration, UNC could lose approximately 31 work-study jobs beginning the next academic year unless it can find a way to make up the funds.

As part of the 2011 deal to raise the federal debt limit, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which mandated spending cuts of $1.2 trillion, known as sequestration, which took effect March 1.

If sequestration stands, the University will lose $84,000 in federal work-study funding, said Shirley Ort, associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid.

The average work-study student is awarded $2,700, Ort said.

“We need every dollar that we have in the Federal Work-Study Program,” she said.

She said if sequestration stands, her office will work to make up the difference lost.

“What we would do is try to make up that loss in federal funds with additional University money, so it wouldn’t result in fewer work opportunities for students,” she said.

Ort said the University would not lose money from the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program or from Federal Pell Grants, both of which are sheltered under sequestration.

Tabatha Turner, associate director of scholarships and student aid, said the University has not yet figured out where it would get the replacement money if sequestration is not avoided.

“Operating under federal regulations, we’re used to not having control over a lot of the decisions that are made that directly affect us and our students, so that is nothing new for us,” she said. “But, certainly, any time there are cuts made to any of the programs we have available for students, it’s very frustrating.

“This change is particularly frustrating because it happened because of a lack of government working together.”

Zach Kaplan, a member of the executive board for the Campus Y who also holds a work-study job, took part in a trip to the nation’s capitol as part of the ACC Student Educational Advocacy Trip to advocate for federal funding for student aid and research in the face of sequestration earlier this month.

He said the timing of the trip was frustrating because sequestration had already taken effect, but he was glad representatives listened to their personal perspectives.

“My work-study job has taught me so much, not only in terms of work effort — having a job while also being a student — but it’s allowed me to work with the community, which I never would have gotten to do if it weren’t for work-study,” Kaplan said.

He said he is worried about UNC’s ability to continue funding work-study jobs.

“It’s a tricky situation because if the government isn’t funding the University, then the University has to come up with it on their own, and the University is struggling with its own budgeting issues,” he said.

“A lot of times, work-study just falls through the cracks.”

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