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3 Ways UNT Has Neglected Student Minimum Wages

The minimum wage at the University of North Texas has been steady for a number of years, but student employees have been let down by the institution in regards to wage— while the minimum wage has been increased, it is by such a minuscule amount that it lacks any impact on the lives of student employees. 

1. UNT's Recent Minimum Wage Raise

In 2022, student employees at UNT were told that the university’s minimum wage would increase from $7.25 an hour to $8.50. Almost 200 out of the nearly 5000 student employees would receive an immediate raise as many were already receiving this rate, however, some employees felt diminished by this. 

The Official Notice from the President's email concerning the wage raise opened with a statement that voiced how the university’s student employees ensure smooth operations across their campus. They state how student employees are relied upon to answer phones, respond to emails, serve food, set up rooms, manage front desk operations, and much more. 

We believe this only emphasizes how student employees are unfairly treated by the system, their hard work is acknowledged but not rewarded. 

2. The President's Raise

In 2020, President Neil Smatresk received a 6 percent raise that shot his total compensation to over $600,000, about $100,000 above what the average public university president makes. That is about a $70,000 pay increase for the president compared to the $1.25 given to student employees.

Free Woman Calculating Money and Receipts Using a Calculator Stock Photo

However, the problem is not how much they are paying the president, but the lack of consideration the university has towards its student staff as they continue to ignore the struggle student employees face as they are paid starvation wages. 

While universities prioritize competitive salaries for presidents to keep their expertise, what about the student employees whose on-campus jobs are crucial for them to continue studying at UNT? 



3. Wages in Denton

The average hourly wage in Denton can range from 9 to 16 dollars an hour. A student could work as a cashier at the Walgreens on University Drive for almost 11 dollars an hour, but those on a work study or are restricted by visa regulations are forced to work the same job for less on campus. 

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With rising inflation and housing prices, the cost of living in Denton can’t be supported by the current wages at UNT. Even a Walgreens employee working for 11 dollars an hour will struggle with making ends meet as prices continue to increase. 

The average wage in Denton can sustain a student enough to rent a four-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Denton, going for groceries maybe once every week or two. The average wage in UNT is barely enough to keep a student from falling below the poverty line.


UNT has made a commitment to empower its students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. They should begin to live up to it. 

What UNT Should do 

Raising the minimum wage will not only help the students, but the institution as well. As UNT has a high dropout rate of 32 percent that is largely attributed to the financial pressures students endure, particularly those who work at the university, lifting that burden can in turn decrease the drop rate with time.

Email to voice your concerns of low wages at UNT.