Earning our keep
Explaining wage-rates for on-campus jobs
Many students at Grand Valley State University are employed on-campus, responsible for a wide range of tasks from food service to technical support. With these different jobs come different wage-rates, and the GVSU Student Employment Office makes suggestions to departments and offices to determine
what their student workers should be paid.
“There are numerous jobs that pay students more than minimum wage,” said Luis Lozano, assistant
director for the Student Employment Office. “The wage offered should reflect the job responsibilities
and tasks assigned to the student employee.”
Lozano said that the majority of student workers are hired starting out at minimum wage, which is
$7.40 in Michigan.
“On-campus jobs are not required to start a student at minimum wage, but each department is tasked
with ensuring they are being good financial stewards of university dollars,” Lozano said. “As such,
most entry-level positions for students do not require any special skills or certifications.”
Students working at jobs on-campus that do require special skills or certifications are often hired in at
a rate higher than minimum wage, Lozano said.
Jeff Musser, assistant vice president for University Budgets, said that differences exist everywhere and
that it makes sense to pay students who have more experience or skills more than others.
“Students that have the experience and technical skills make more because the skills that are required
are in higher demand,” Musser said. “We value those skills more than someone who is just answering
When building the university budget, Musser said departments can request a bigger budget for their
student workers. To do so, each department funnels the request up to their most senior officer, the
dean or provost, through the established process.
“When we build the budget, departments often make requests for student wage increases,” Musser
said. “They have student wage budgets and can choose to spend that budget any way they want.”
Linda Yuhas, director of Compensation and Employment Services, said working on campus is a good
experience for students because it gives them the chance to gain work experience and make
“It’s a great opportunity for students to work in jobs on campus for them to build their resume,”
Yuhas said. “It’s part of the college experience to be mentored, and we benefit, too. I enjoy having
students around the office, so it’s a win-win situation.”
Lozano also said that while the focus of on-campus jobs should be academics, working on campus is
a great way for students to prepare to enter the workforce.
“As a student employee, the primary focus is, and should be, to focus on their academics with the goal
of graduation,” he said. “However, student employees are viewed as a critical part both for staffing
functions and as an opportunity to develop and prepare the student for entry into the workforce after
graduation. Students that work on-campus are able to learn about professionalism, office culture,
policies and procedures.”
Lozano added that studies show students who work up to 15 hours per week do just as well or even
better academically than students who don’t work while in school.
“Paying students competitive wages for on-campus jobs is an investment by GVSU to ensure that the
student does well academically and is prepared for the work force,” he said.
Giving students the opportunity to earn a higher wage-rate working on campus also helps students to
stay in the same department to gain experience, do good work and possibly receive a raise.
“Offering the possibility of a pay raise could motivate the student to continue working for the same
department,” Lozano said. “As the student returns each year, their job responsibilities could also
The Student Employment Office aids students in finding jobs and internships through the online
database, LakerJobs. For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/studentjobs.