Job program pairs experience with pay

By Jean Volz

NIU students will no longer have to sling burgers or flip pizzas to get themselves through college.

A new co-op program has been established to provide career-related job experiences along with a very good pay rate.

Marilyn Smith, humanities coordinator for Cooperative Education, said the new program is called ASSET, Alternative Student Service Education Trust, and is funded via the state.

Smith said NIU has been given $147,500 for the program.

NIU and five other Illinois schools have been named recipients of the grant money because of their outstanding co-op programs, she said.

Smith listed Illinois State University, Bradley University, College of DuPage and Illinois Institute of Technology as the other receivers of the grant funds for ASSET, which are available via the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Smith, who is also the program supervisor for ASSET, said, “The point of this pilot program is to help students with educational fees through earning money doing jobs in the community.”

The majority of the 50 or more jobs NIU’s program has available are for careers dealing with social services; however, Smith said she has positions for majors such as nutrition, law, business, special education and communications.

The positions are paid by NIU through Student Employment, she said, and are in local not-for-profit agencies.

“A large number of agencies are enrolled,” Smith said.

Among the many are DCFS, Safe Passage, Hope Haven, the DeKalb Special Education Association and the American Lung Association, she said.

Students will earn $8 an hour, although the pay rate will be divided between two funds for the student employees, she said.

First, students will earn the taxable rate of $4.25 an hour, which the students will receive in paycheck form, she said.

The remaining $3.75 an hour will not be taxed and will be set aside in an account which the students can apply toward their tuition bill the following semester, Smith said.

She said students will be required to work two semesters for a minimum of 240 total hours, 120 per period. The maximum total number of hours a person could clock is 625, with an earning potential of up to $5,000.

The qualifications interested students must have to take part in ASSET are similar to those required to enroll in the regular co-op program.

Smith said students must be full-time and have a 2.0 GPA.

Because of the special nature of ASSET, students also must have a minimum of three semesters left at NIU, she said, so the account that is created for them can be used toward their tuition bills.

Students also must enroll in the co-op program, attend a one-hour orientation session and write a resume, Smith said.

“It is a wonderful program,” she added.

For more information about ASSET, contact Marilyn Smith in the Holmes Student Center, room 232, or call 753-7138.

“The point of this pilot program is to help students with educational fees through earning money doing jobs in the community.”