Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Students benefit from wage increase

The state of Illinois will be increasing its minimum wage to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020. Augustana will be raising its wages to this for students during this time as well. However, the question of whether the college will continue to increase its wages with the state still remains unknown. 
According to the Chicago Tribune, after the state’s minimum wage increase in January, it will increase again on July 1 to $10. After that, each year the wage will increase in increments of one dollar. This will continue until 2025, where the minimum wage in Illinois will reach $15. 
However, Augustana students employed through the school may not have their pay increase in these increments. The college will increase minimum wage to $9.25 in January, but any increases in pay after that are uncertain. 
This is because Augustana is exempt from increasing students’ pay during each increment. According to the Federal Labor Standards Act, colleges and universities can pay as little as 85 percent of minimum wage to full-time students. Because of this, colleges don’t have to follow the state’s minimum wage laws.
“I think for the most part, [students] won’t see much of a change [on the first increment]. However, in the long term we are still unsure of what will happen and how it will affect Augustana,” EDGE Center assistant director and student employment coordinator, Andy Shearouse, said.  “Certainly, students will be happy to receive a bigger paycheck. Negatives will be that payroll comes from the Augustana budget which may influence tuition increments.”
It is uncertain on exactly how much wages will increase in the next few years and where the budget to pay students more will come from.
“We’re in a little bit of a wait and see type of atmosphere to see what happens. If the wage rate continues and if there’s this caveat that colleges don’t necessarily have to adhere to it,” the chief financial officer and vice president of administration, Kirk Anderson, said. “ We typically look at other schools, too, to see if we’re in alignment with them. We want to be fair, is what we want to be. We want to compensate students the best we can without going completely over the top of our budget.” 
If Augustana decides to continue to increase pay for students, then it is likely that the money to pay students will lead to an increase in tuition. 
“We want to minimize the tuition impact to the students,” Jacob Bobbitt from the business office said. “In total, about half the students on campus have had a job on campus at some point in time. To have it impact tuition would have it impact the whole student body to benefit maybe half of the students who do have jobs as the wage goes up.”
Augustana is also trying to see if there are jobs that they don’t need, according to Anderson. The college currently does not know for sure about cutting jobs and hours but they are considering it. Ultimately, the goal is to keep tuition low while paying students a fair wage.
“It’s about creating that balance. We’re constantly trying to balance this out to make sure we’re giving a fair wage rate but we’re able to manage the overall tuition of the college at the same time,” Anderson said. 
However, this upcoming wage increase in January will not change the maximum amount of hours allowed for domestic and international students. Domestic students are still going to be able to work 10 hours a week and international students 20 hours.
“I’m happy about the wage increase because, as an international student, there are not many options to make money unless it’s an on-campus job,” senior Sophia Gow, a student worker in Old Main, said. “Yet because of academics, many international students can’t hold more than two jobs to help make ends meet. I believe that the increase will allow us to have more stable jobs and focus on academics, which is what matters.”
Olivia Doak and Natalie McMillan contributed to this article.

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Students benefit from wage increase