More bang for your buck

Nebraska’s wage increase helps students earn more on campus

Emy Wood

If you’ve been living under a rock (or a pile of books studying for those biology exams), you may have missed the news; Nebraska passed Initiative 425 last November, an initiative to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 effective January 1, 2015.

In January 2016, the minimum wage will increase again from $8 to $9. Not impressed? That’s a spike of 24% within the span of 13 months.

But, with the recent talk of wage increases across America, this hardly comes as a surprise.

“I believe the wage increase will allow not only myself but other students and employees an opportunity to feel more comfortable about what they are making and for some to provide more to feed their families,” said sophomore exercise science major Devin Alexander.

For most college students, working is often a fundamental responsibility. Paying off student debt, buying groceries, paying for the cell phone bill—the costs seem neverending. With the recent minimum wage increase, more of us can breathe a sigh of relief at the end of our month when we open our pay stubs.

For Alexander, coming from California’s $9 minimum wage to Nebraska took some trouble adjusting. “Now I feel as if I am earning the amount of work I am putting in,” he said.

I’ll do the math for you. A student working 20 hours a week jumping from $7.25 to $8 means an extra $270 over 18 weeks. And, at $9, this means an extra $630.

“Working helps me balance my life better,” said Sable Kessler, sophomore Natural Science Education major. “I’m a saver, so it’s nice to have more money now.”But, a change like this doesn’t come without adjustments. So, what does this mean for Union College?

“The minimum wage raise was on our radar before it hit,” said Jeff Leeper, Union’s vice president for financial administration. “It is probably bad timing, but we can use this for our benefit.”

With the new Kruger Center up and Jorgensen being torn down, a financial change like this will require a closer evaluation. But, that’s not unusual. Leeper says some adjustments may need to be made after looking at the whole budget, but simply cutting hours just to cut costs won’t be an option.

“We live on student workers. We use approximately 200,000 student hours a year. This doesn’t mean there won’t be adjustments in places, but adjustments happen even without these kind of changes,” he said. Some of these adjustments may include evaluating the necessity of certain jobs.

“Our goal is to educate students and to enable them to go into the world to be a light, wherever [they] are called,” said Leeper.

Now, you can feel called into the world with a little extra money in your pocket. While most of us (sorry upperclassmen) won’t benefit from the wage increase, this is definitely a change you’ll want to keep track of.

Emy is a sophomore studying communication.