If it weren’t were research funding from the government, two of the student research positions I’ve held would not have been possible. I’ve been lucky that these positions are in fields of research that have commercial value so I guess these employers will continue to employ students in the future.
A lot of my friends depend on research grants so they can work in an academic lab, not just volunteer in one. Not everyone can afford to work for free when there are bills, rent, and tuition to pay. The experience at an academic lab is far more valuable than working a full time summer job at a local starbucks, especially if you intend to pursue a career in that field of research; competition in science related work is high with decreasing job availabilities.
Just my two cents with a student in science perspective.