Dear members of the Kenyon College community,
Kenyon’s pledge to meet 100 percent of students’ demonstrated financial need is fundamental to who we are and critical to our commitment to access and inclusion. Work-study is an important component of how we do that. In addition to income, work-study provides varied opportunities for students to gain valuable work experiences, which enrich and enhance their studies. The pandemic has only underscored the importance of these opportunities.
As shared previously, we are taking steps to strengthen work-study and campus work programs based on input from students, faculty and staff gathered last fall by Campus Senate and a special committee of the Board of Trustees. We heard from some students that they had difficulty securing positions or sufficient hours, especially in their first year. This presents a unique challenge for students awarded work-study as part of their financial aid package. Based on important findings by Campus Senate and valuable input from other campus stakeholders, we are taking meaningful steps to better align work-study expectations with typical student earnings.
Starting in the 2021-2022 academic year, Kenyon will set the work-study expectation of need-based financial aid packages at $1,000 (previously $2,000). In addition, students will receive $500 more in grants as well as a $500 credit at the Kenyon College bookstore — $250 at the start of each semester — to purchase textbooks and required course materials. We know that many students depend on work-study for these essentials, and this ensures that those funds are available as soon as they arrive on campus. This increased investment in financial aid was enthusiastically supported by the Board of Trustees in its approval of the 2021-22 operating budget.
The goal of these changes is to make work-study expectations more achievable and to reduce unnecessary pressure on students balancing academics, extracurriculars and meaningful work in support of their educational goals. However, students may choose to earn more than $1,000 a year in campus work, and we anticipate that students who work at Kenyon over the summer or during breaks will do so. Improved reporting systems will allow supervisors and work-study administrators to more easily assist students in tracking their progress and in making adjustments as necessary.
Kenyon is making other administrative changes to support students and improve the job application process. This includes making it possible for supervisors to know which applicants in their pool have been awarded work-study. Starting this spring, supervisors are encouraged to reserve at least 50 percent of their interview opportunities for those students. Additional guidance will be developed for supervisors over the summer to support them in their work as mentors, models and educators to student workers. An update on the pay tier system will come later this semester.
Finally, I encourage any student who is facing financial hardship due to a loss of income of any kind, including income expected during the academic year, to request emergency relief funds by completing this brief online form. The financial aid staff has worked to make the process as easy as possible, and it is open to students whether or not they are receiving other financial aid. Once a request is granted, students receive funds as a check.
We understand the importance of supporting our students’ financial needs as they devote themselves to the full breadth of a Kenyon education. These new policies will afford students the flexibility to pursue campus work opportunities that offer meaningful connections between their academic interests and the world of work and career.