Nearly a quarter of the student body works part-time, up to 20 hours a week, for the university. The majority of those students make $8.25 an hour, the current minimum wage in Illinois.
"If you talk to students they love the idea that they are going to get paid more. But if we tell them they may get hours cut or there may be less jobs for students. Then they start asking 'is it worth it?'. So they are torn," said Director of Western's Budget Office Matt Bierman.
Bierman said having to increase student worker wages to the $10.65 rate currently being considered by Illinois lawmakers would cost the university about $1.2 million.
“It’s either going to have to come from where everything else comes from either continued reductions or tuition increases," Bierman said. "Neither is good for us to talk about right now because of the impact those are having on our student’s inability to pay or what that means for our faculty and staff positions on campus.”
Western Illinois University also pays some non-student employees minimum wage. Bierman says increasing their base pay could cost the school another $200,000 or more.