The new minimum wage change increases the Missouri minimum wage from $7.85 to $8.60. This change, however, is not mandated for public universities.
Despite this, Northwest stated it would implement this policy for student employees.
This change is both admirable and critical to ensuring student jobs are competitive in the workforce, notably for both international students who are restricted to on-campus positions and national students who can benefit from work-study. However, it raises questions around whether the University should promise this when Student Senate is key to the change.
Student Senate is key since they regulate student fees. This means an increase in minimum wage would likely require an increase in student fees, alongside the approval of Student Senate.
While student jobs are critical for the University, providing a cheaper alternative to full-time employees, the University making this change is appreciated, even if logistically it wasn’t optional. This is due to student employees effectively being split into two categories: international students and national students. While national students can leave University jobs for more competitive jobs around Maryville, it’s not quite as easy for international students.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, international students with a standard F-1 Student Visa can only work off-campus if certain conditions are met.
They can’t work-off campus their first academic year, and after their first academic year, they can only work-off campus if the job falls under one of three categories outlined by the USCIS.
All three of these categories require an international student’s off-campus job to be in their area of study. The other option is working on-campus, which is allowed for international students during any of their academic years.
Maryville is small, so it’s not easy to find a job related to a student’s area of study, especially with a niche field of study. This results in on-campus jobs being the most viable option for international students, guaranteeing the University employee opportunities.
Despite this, the University is attempting this change, enabling international students to stay competitive with national students able to find jobs off-campus. The change keeps students able to go off-campus and on-campus.
Student employment includes benefits off-campus jobs simply can’t provide: flexibility and federal work-study.
The difficulty of a job in college is balancing it with class. For many students, a consistent income is necessary to survive each semester, so scheduling accommodations are luxurious. On-campus positions provide exactly that. While off-campus jobs have no obligation to worry about a student’s class schedule, on-campus jobs try to avoid that, believing in academics first and work second.
Federal work-study further sways students.
Students qualified for federal work-study are exempt from reporting their on-campus job income on their FAFSA. If a student qualifies for federal work-study financial aid, they simply need to accept it in CatPaws. They then will be able to benefit from their work-study.
Combining both of these benefits alongside the minimum wage change provides a competitive edge for critical student job positions. However, we believe there’s a slight problem with the University promising this change.
The University shouldn’t promise a change they can’t ensure will happen. Until Student Senate agrees to this change, the University should hold off.
With the promise, many students are making financial plans, plans that rely on this change happening. In an instance where it doesn’t happen, a wrench is suddenly thrown into these students’ plans, making a mess for them.
While the prospect of this minimum wage change is beneficial for student employees and the University, until there’s a plan put in place with the approval of Student Senate, the University should be cautious when making this bold promise.