[ NEWS ]






By Amanda Riddle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 27, 1997

Financial aid recipients may be able to attain internships easier

Students eligible to receive financial aid may also find it easier to obtain internships in their field of study with the help of a bill in the state legislature.

The Arizona Students' Association filed the work-study program bill in the 43rd Legislature after a similar bill failed last year, said Berry Melfy, the University of Arizona's ASA director.

"It is an internship to help you get acclimated in your field of interest and get experience," Melfy said.

If the bill is passed, students will be able to defer loans by taking jobs in their major that offer wages higher than minimum wage, she said.

Participating employers can pay more because they will receive a tax credit for 50 percent of the wages they pay, Melfy said.

"I think it helps to have a partnership between local companies and students," she said.

Sen. Ruth Solomon, D-Tucson, one of the bill's primary sponsors, said, "It gives practical experience and a foot up in the job market."

Solomon supported the previous bill and said it failed in the appropriations committee last year because of the cost to the state associated with it.

Last year's version required the employer to pay half the student's wages and the state to pay the other half, Melfy said.

Melfy said there is no money for any other educational programs in the state legislature right now.

This bill, Senate Bill 1020, was introduced to the floor Jan. 15. The following day, it passed its second reading and was assigned to the education, finance and rules committees.

It is being discussed in the Education Committee.

If the bill passes through the three committees, it will be sent to the House of Representatives and follow through the same committee process, Solomon said.

If it passes out of the House unchanged, it will be sent to the governor. If it is changed in the House, the bill will be sent back to the Senate, she said.

Solomon said the bill could possibly become law at the end of April.

ASA also filed a pre-paid college savings bill and is working toward funding Arizona Student Program Investing Resources in Education, which sponsors needy third-graders who want to go to college.

The three bills address student need in different areas of higher education, Melfy said.

"ASPIRE addresses students who do not have plans for college. Pre-paid is for students who have the ability to go but have to plan ahead. Work study gives students experience in their field and helps to defer loans," Melfy said.

The pre-paid college savings bill, Senate Bill 1055, allows a family member to save college money in a savings account that offers tax-free interest at the state level.

"We're hoping this year is the pinnacle and the two bills get through and we work on getting money for ASPIRE," Melfy said.