Just a reminder that the deadline to apply for work exemption is February 4th, which is a scant two weeks away. What is work exemption, you ask? Well, Bwog is here with a brief Q&A to make the process totally simple. It’s so easy, a cat could understand it.
A: No, sorry, I meant a cat that speaks English.
Q: Okay then. Now, what is this work exemption business?
A: I’m glad you asked, President Barack Meowbama. Let me tell you about it. Basically, the Work Exemption Program, or WEP for short, is a joint program between the financial aid office and the Center for Career Education. Its goal is to give grants to students working at unpaid internships so that they can still, you know, eat, without having to work a second job.
Q: What’s a grant?
A: It’s like a loan, except you don’t have to pay it back. Columbia is giving you money just to go out and get life experience! Isn’t that awesome?
Q: Can I spend the money on fish?
A: Well, you don’t get the money as a check. The grant shows up as a credit to your account, so in other words it just makes your tuition less expensive. If you’re taking out any loans, Columbia will replace some of your loan with a grant. This helps you in the long term, but in the short term, it doesn’t give you extra spending money.
Q: So how am I going to eat? I’m a housecat, I’m not about to go and hunt my own salmon.
A: Unfortunately, this might not help you with that. But, assuming your parents are paying for school, this can make it a lot easier for them to handle payments. So, you can probably talk them into giving you some spending money once you explain the situation.
Q: Cool. How do I find out if I’m eligible?
A: To be eligible, your internship has to be unpaid, but you can still apply if you work multiple jobs, even if one or more of those jobs pays you. However, you can’t be getting any sort of compensation for the unpaid internship you are applying for–that includes school credit! And only students in CC or SEAS are eligible at the moment.
Q: That’s okay, I go to SEAS, obviously. More fish there. Get it? SEAS?
A: Ha, ha.
Q: But I’m not a work-study student. Is that okay?
A: Yes! As long as you have a work expectation, even if you aren’t eligible for federal work study, you can apply for work exemption. That basically means that anyone getting any sort of loan or financial aid is eligible.
Q: What do I have to do to apply?
A: There are two parts to the application. First, you have to fill out a brief online application with information like your name, class year, employer’s name and contact info, and the hours you work. Then, there’s an application on LionShare (search for job ID number 126027) with 5 documents. Three of these are for you to fill out. Your resume, unofficial transcript (a screenshot from SSOL will do), and a personal statement of 2 to 3 double-spaced pages. Follow that link to find a description of exactly what should go in the essay.
Q: What about the other two documents?
Those two are filled out by other people: a short form for your employer to verify you work for them, and a letter of recommendation from a Columbia professor or some other mentor in your life. As long as they’re not related to you, they can write you a letter. There are forms for you to download and sen to both of those people, and you can tell them to email their finished forms straight to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Wow, that does sound pretty easy!
A: It is, Meowbama. And if you can do it, I know all of your fellow Bwog readers can do it, too.
Meowllionaire via Shutterstock