Does work-study benefit from minimum wage?

Emma Cottrell

For those with a work-study job on campus, you may have heard that starting on January 1, 2020, Illinois minimum wage will increase from the current $8.25 an hour to $9.25, enacted by the Illinois Department of Labor.

The next increase will be on July first to $10 an hour.

From then on the minimum wage will go up one dollar on the first of every year until 2025 with the end goal being $15 an hour. 

Governor Jay Pritzker signed the bill to be in place this past February.

Illinois is among the first states to implement a $15 minimum wage, along with California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and is the highest state minimum wage in our surrounding area.

The minimum wage has been a controversial topic with Democrats in Illinois celebrating the accomplishment and Republicans remain skeptical of its economic impact. 

But what does this mean for students at IWU?

The good news is that our pay will be increasing along with the rest of the state.

But our hours will decrease from 10 hours a week to nine starting spring semester 2020.

This is so we do not go over the $2,400 work-study limit we have been awarded by the state. 

Americans have been waiting for a higher minimum wage, and it is finally coming to fruition.

But students will not directly reap the benefits through work-study positions.

Some may be happy that we will now be working fewer hours with more money by the hour.

On the other hand, some may be unhappy that we are not being allowed the opportunity to raise the work-study pay limit proportionally.

We should stay within the federal amount we have been given, but today’s students are some of the most in-debt people in the country.

“The good news is that our pay will be increasing along with the rest of the state.”

It makes sense to help alleviate the student debt as much as possible, so as not to saddle the coming generations with thousands of dollars of crippling debt.

I’m no economist, but it does not sound good for the economy for so many people to be unable to buy homes because they are still paying off their school debt for years. 

I work 40 hours a month.

The amount of money I make is not enough to make a significant dent in my tuition, nor is it enough to cover monthly rent.

It would be immensely helpful if our wages rose to help cover the rising costs of living.

Wasn’t that the whole point of increasing the minimum wage in the first place? 

Whatever your stance may be, my remaining questions are: when will students benefit from the minimum wage increase?

When will the federal government decide to match their aid to the minimum wage of the state?

Why was it not matched in the first place?

After doing some digging, I learned that the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but we are currently getting paid according to the Illinois minimum wage.

Why is it not staying that way?

As you can tell, I have more questions than answers.

If you have any questions about the transition, please talk to financial aid or your supervisor.