North Texas Daily

Students discuss university pay as Biden proposes $15 minimum wage

Students discuss university pay as Biden proposes $15 minimum wage

Students discuss university pay as Biden proposes $15 minimum wage
January 28
09:30 2021

As President Joe Biden takes steps in attempt to raise the federal hourly minimum wage to $15, student workers reflect on the university’s own pay rates.

The current federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009. On Jan. 22, Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to pay workers $15 an hour, according to NBC News. Biden plans to turn this request into a requirement, beginning the process toward a universal wage increase.

There are currently 7,040 student employees, Associate Director of Student Employment Patricia Chastain said. The student workers range from freshmen to doctoral students, with 75 percent of the workforce made up of undergraduates.

“[The] average salary for undergraduates is $9.37 per hour,” Chastain said. “It does increase with experience, classification and job responsibilities with some departments paying up to $15 per hour.”

If the federal minimum wage was increased, Chastain said student employment would “abide by Federal and State laws and UNT Policy.”

“[A minimum wage increase] would help immensely,” said a student worker who wished to be identified only as Sav. “I wouldn’t have to worry about missing payments for housing or food. The university starts at $7.25 per hour, which is nowhere near enough for some of the work students do. I think the minimum for on campus jobs should be at least $8 or $9 [an hour].”

Sav works for the university’s printing and distribution services. The job is “great,” with an occasional heavy workload and the benefit of working well with student schedules. However, she has held the position for a year and still struggles to make ends meet.

“I’m allowed to go ‘full time’ during the winter and summer, allowing me to work 39 hours,” Sav said. “But during the semester, when I’m only allowed to work 25 [hours]. It’s really tight.”

Paula Maria Frade, a political science and latina/o culture, economy and policy sophomore, works as a part-time desk clerk for university housing. Frade said she liked the job overall but thinks management could “be better.” 

Frade’s student salary has become especially important after an issue arose with her financial aid. She told the Daily that she was not made aware of a grant she was given, causing the balance between her financial aid and loans to go off track. While grateful for the grant, Frade said she feels frustrated she now “owe[s] money to the school because of it.”

“Getting paid $8 per hour barely pays the bills that UNT is making me pay for after messing up my financial aid and [not saying] anything [until] the final day to do [a] payment plan,” Frade told the North Texas Daily on Twitter. “On top of that, for some, this is the only job they can rely on to be financially stable, including me.”

Frade has worked in the position for a full semester with no mention of a raise. A $15 hourly minimum wage would allow Frade to “pay [for] school and bills without having to choose which one is a priority that month.”

Featured Image: The Career Center sits inside Sage Hall on the second floor on Jan. 26, 2021. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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