WTAMU student worker pay to increase over 25% starting this fall

The minimum wage for student workers used to be equal to the Texas minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. However, West Texas A&M University’s Office of Human Resources announced last week that the university is raising the minimum wage for student workers to $10 per hour beginning Sept. 6.

All students were eligible regardless of departmental funding; the supervisors got to decide whether to increase it or not based on their budget. Since student enrollments largely account for the university’s budget, the allocation of funds within departments is what determines student workers’ pay and hours. However, all new student workers hired after Sept. 6 will be paid at least $10 an hour.

Working on campus is a great opportunity for students to develop marketable skills that will help them in the job market.

“I think once we graduate and get into all our different career options, it just makes us that much more competitive…and I’m learning lots of skills every day,” said Ustina Guirguis, a student worker at the HUB, located in the Student Success Center.

There is another benefit to students working on campus as opposed to off campus. Being employed on campus means that students receive a greater percentage of their paychecks because they do not have as many taxes deducted from their earnings.

“They don’t have to pay FICA taxes, which is 7.65% of their payroll taxes,” said Randy Rikel, vice president of business and finance. “They might be making the same amount of money, but they get a little bit more here in their paycheck…”

Student workers are a big part of WTAMU’s ability to operate and provide all the services that make the campus and university a success.
Chance Haugen, Senior Director of Campus Community, said, “The essence of our operation is student workers.”
In raising the on-campus minimum wage, the university hopes to attract students to these roles that will help them develop skills that lead to success and ensure that the university has enough student workers to help it be the best academic environment possible.
While the benefits of being employed on campus are many, some students need the higher wage that off-campus jobs can provide. Getting an off-campus job that pays two to three dollars above the on-campus wage can be the difference between making ends meet or going into debt.

However, this $2.75 wage raise means new student workers will get paid about 28% more per hour than previously, which is a significant raise.
At the 20-hour per week mark, which is the hour cap for WTAMU student workers, students will be making $55 more per week and $220 more per month.

Graph by Hannah Valencia

According to College Factual, the average cost of attending WTAMU for residents of Texas with average financial aid is $13,000. If a student worker paid at $7.25 an hour and working 20 hours per week works eight months a year at their job (during the Fall and Spring semesters) and takes a full-time job off campus during the summer that pays $7.25 an hour, they can expect to cover 70% of their total expenses, which leaves 30% of expenses unaccounted for if they are not receiving outside support.

Graph by Hannah Valencia

However, at an hourly pay of $10 during both the academic year and summer, that same student can expect to cover 97% of their expenses, which leaves only 3% of expenses unaccounted for.

Graph by Hannah Valencia

While a couple of extra dollars an hour might not seem like a lot, it makes a big difference in students’ ability to afford a college education and gain the valuable skills that on-campus employment offers in the process.

This story was updated on Sept. 25, 2021 for formatting and style.