20-hour federal work law misses mark

If you are a full-time student employed at UAA, you already know that students can’t work more than 20 hours in one week.

That sentiment is understandable.

Students working only 20 hours a week should, in theory, be better students because they have more time to study.

But this is pre-recession thinking.

A few years ago, students could probably depend on parents to help foot the bill for at least some higher education expenses. They could depend on their parent’s sparkling credit scores to help get private loans.

However, with unemployment in this country still at its highest rate since the Great Depression and, according to a DailyFinance article published July 2, the average level of debt in America is more than most people make in a year, and students are faced with the burden of figuring out how to pay for college themselves.

That means a lot of hours working, apparently, two part-time jobs and staying up until 3 a.m. to get homework done.

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The hourly limitation can obviously do more harm than good.

An extra 10 or 15 hours per week at an on-campus job could be enough to help a student pay rent and keep them out of the stressful situation of having to work two part-time jobs while going to school.

It would be tight. A student would still have to be thrifty with their cash. But it could work.

Don’t blame the university for the policy, though. Point your finger at Uncle Sam.

According to the United States Department of Labor website, “The Full-time Student Program is for full-time students employed in retail or service stores, agriculture, or colleges and universities. … The certificate also limits the hours that the student may work to 8 hours in a day and no more than 20 hours a week when school is in session and 40 hours when school is out.”

Want to know more about the program? Good luck.

Two research librarians at the consortium library and a chat with a librarian at the Library of Congress yielded only vague information about the program. (But TNL is on a huge waiting list to speak to a law librarian. We’ll get that call … someday.)

So it seems that this law, affecting millions of students in the country, was passed without too much uproar from students, lawmakers or media outlets.

What does that mean?

It means we all need to pay attention, because the decisions made in Washington are decisions that affect everyone.