Press "Enter" to skip to content

Field Work Term Office Allocates Incorrect Number of Stipends, Leaving Students without Funding

Photo taken from

On October 11th, 2023 the Student Council met with the Bennington College Senior Leadership Team to discuss this year’s Field Work Term stipend and need-based Winter Supplementary Scholarship. In past years, the budget for these scholarships was expanded to account for inflation and a growing student population, so the first surprise came when it was revealed that the budget for this year remained at $200,000, which is the same as last year.

Additionally, it was revealed that the number of students who qualified for the stipend was projected to be lower than last year, decreasing from approximately 400 students to a projected number of around 373 students. Because of this decrease in student need, the Student Council recommended distributing the flat $500 Field Work Term stipend as per usual, with the regulation that the remaining $13,500 should be reallocated to students who applied for the Winter Supplementary Scholarship. 

However when the stipends were actually allocated, the projected number of students to receive the stipend, and the actual number of students who received a stipend, did not match. The Student Council found that only 327 students of the projected number of 372 received the initial FWT stipend, and the rest of the money was reallocated in the form of the Winter Supplementary Scholarships, leaving around 50 students who did not receive a Field WORK Term stipend or a Winter Supplementary Scholarship. 

These students, (most of which had received the stipend in previous years) were not informed they were not going to receive this year’s Field Work stipend. They were not warned and the FWT office failed to publicize any information about the redefined criteria. This left many who counted on receiving the money now headed into the Field Work Term period without any funds from the school.

When pressed by the Student Council for a response, John Link from the Field Work Term office said in an email on December 4th, 2023:

 “I want to clarify that some students who may have been on the original list were not eligible for the FWT stipend for various reasons (completing their Field Work as a Museum Fellow, they satisfied their four Field Work experience requirements ahead of schedule, or they have left the college).” 

However with a number this high, the premise that every student who didn’t receive a stipend is either doing study abroad or Museum Fellows is questionable. Several students who are remaining on campus in the Spring have reached out to the Student Council to report their missing stipend.

The Bennington College Senior Leadership Team’s agreement with the Student Council states the importance of shared governance. However, the council’s initial recommendation for the $200,000 to be distributed among the projected number of 372 students was rejected and replaced with a plan that left many students without funding. Originally, students were told the $200,000 would be increased by the time stipends were allocated, which ultimately did not prove to be true. 

On December 9th, 2023 the Student Council sent an inquiry to President Laura Walker in the form of a policy proposal, (which can be accessed via the Bennington Student Council website.) Of the questions posed, the one in bold typeface asks: Were any changes made in FLoW eligibility this year? 

Many students believe the qualifications of Flo have been redefined with no warning and still no information to the students about what these changes were. If this is confirmed, it will impact many FLoW students, who can now be excluded from funding opportunities. While students wait for a response from the administration, many are facing the next few months away from campus feeling anxious and unsupported by the Field Work Term and Financial Aid offices. 

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *