Campus, Coronavirus, News

SEO and Financial Assistance continue to evaluate courses of action

Boston University’s Financial Assistance office has not yet made a decision as to whether it will refund students that receive financial aid for dining plans and on-campus housing during the remote learning period. EMILY CANDAL/ DFP FILE

The Student Employment Office is attempting to ensure that those enrolled in the university’s work-study program can continue to earn their pay following Boston University’s announcement that classes will be moved online until April 13.

In the university’s March 11 announcement, students who are able to return or remain home were encouraged to not return to campus as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the campus remains open and students enrolled in work-study jobs may be able to continue working at the discretion of their specific department.

Mary Ann French, director of student employment, wrote in an email that each student’s case will be different and up to their supervisor and department’s discretion. Some will be able to continue working even if they don’t return to campus, she wrote.

“If a department permits, a student can also work remotely. However, the student must have departmental approval to do so, and the work must still be supervised,” French wrote. “Supervisors can determine whether or not they are able to provide students with adequate supervision.”

French wrote that SEO and the university are working to help students who cannot return to campus and are not permitted to work remotely.

“The University is looking into whether students who are employed in Federal Work-Study Grant positions can be paid if they are unable to work,” French wrote. “Impacted students will be notified once a determination has been made.”

French also wrote students should be checking the questions and answers page on BU’s COVID-19 Information website often, where updates on work-study jobs and financial assistance will be posted as soon as they become available.

Julie Wickstrom, executive director of financial assistance, wrote in an email that no decision has been made in regard to what will happen with money going toward dining plans and on-campus housing or the aid students receive for these commodities.

“This is an extraordinary situation we are all experiencing. The University continues to evaluate whether refunds related to housing and dining will be made, and further information will be available as we know more,” Wickstrom wrote. “At this time there are no plans to re-allocate or roll back funds, however if adjustments are made to housing and dining charges, it may be necessary for similar adjustments to be made to financial aid designated for these costs.”

Stephanie Kirabo, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, works at guest services in Agganis Arena through her federal work-study grant. As a result of Gov. Charlie Baker’s ban on gatherings of more than 25 people, Agganis Arena is currently halting all events and Kirabo will be unable to return to work.

Kirabo will not be returning to campus and said while she is unable to work either on-campus or remotely, she has no problem with some students being able to continue their work.

“If their job allows them to work from home, I think that’s good for them because then they can still be making money,” Kirabo said. “I don’t know if it’s fair but, I’m not upset that other people can still make money.”

Kirabo said her grant provided her with an additional $2,000 dollars to go toward her tuition, and as of now she has not received word on whether or not this would be affected by her inability to work.

As for the handling of her specific situation, Kirabo said she has no problems with the way SEO and her specific department are handling the situation.

“I think they’ve done a pretty good job, they’ve sent us a lot of emails,” Kirabo said. “I just looked at them this morning and it seems like they’re keeping us pretty informed.”

Cece Cohon, a freshman in the School of Hospitality who holds a work-study job in the Tsai Performance Center, is also pleased with the amount of information she’s received, though she attributes much of that to her specific boss.

“It’s good to hear from my boss. I’m glad that she’s so responsive and responsible,” Cohon said. “But if I had a worst boss then I would sort of be confused.”

Cohon works with lighting and sound production at her job, and is not able to do anything remotely. The Tsai Performance Center has canceled all their upcoming events per the governor’s instruction.

Cohon said she would appreciate the opportunity to work remotely, even if it meant getting a new job.

“I would love to continue to work and continue earning money. That would be really great right now, especially as there’s so much uncertainty coming this summer,” Cohon said. “If BU offered me some sort of work that I could do to make up the income that I’m expecting, that would be nice.”

Kirabo said at the moment she is more concerned with where her tuition money will now go, and that getting back to work is not her top priority amidst the changes taking place.

“I want to know how they’re going to go about [the] tuition we paid for room and board,” Kirabo said. “I’ve already paid to eat there, but now that I’m not eating there, that’s money that I would need for eating at home and so I kind of want that money back.”

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