In new 룸알바 research released Nov. 9, we found that a student earning the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) would need to work a full-time job–nearly 44 hours a week–to afford average net annual tuition at four-year public institutions today. In 1970, students working minimum-wage jobs could afford private-school tuition if they worked full-time during the summer and 15 hours a week on average during the rest of the year.
On average, a student earning the federal minimum wage would only have to work about 25 hours a week to meet the net cost of tuition at a public, two-year institution. In 2021, in order to afford private-school average tuition while working a minimum-wage job, the student would have to work 100 hours a week, 52 weeks per year. A student working part-time in 1972 would have likely earned more money working a part-time job than an undergraduate student does today, and pay less toward their undergraduate education.
Earning New Yorks $9/hour minimum wage, a part-time student could pocket more than enough money to cover her costs. Assuming that college graduates taking out loans make $9.40/hour–the state average minimum wage, which is higher than the federal minimum–they would have to hold down a 40-hour-per-week, full-time job for an entire year in order to afford the costs of attending. In reality, in order to cover the price of college graduates who borrow for their education, they would either have to get a job paying significantly more than the national minimum wage, or work an unworkable number of hours.
Of course, if they attended a private school, or a school with costs higher than the average, they would have to put in a few extra hours. If the student is going to need to borrow more than the expected starting wage to attend a particular college, then they might want to consider a less expensive school offering the same degree program. You might be able to receive credit discounts if you are a high school senior working toward your undergraduate degree.
Unlike a typical four-year college, students at these schools have the option of paying no tuition at all, as long as they do not get jobs in the specified timeframe. If you are having trouble paying all of your tuition at the beginning of a term, you may want to talk with your school about the way that college payment plans work, so that you can figure out whether opting into a payment plan will make attending the school more affordable.
Making your college payments every month could make things much easier if you are trying to make it to the end of the school year because you could be paying small amounts at a time. While covering the costs of college may seem overwhelming, there are many ways to cover the costs, including federal and private loans for students and parents, grants, scholarships, and working during school. Many students finance college through attending lower-cost schools and securing scholarships, federal and private student loans, and part-time jobs.
College Work-Study programs are federally funded ways for students to find part-time jobs, either on campus or off, to help cover the costs of college. The federal work-study system is overseen by the United States Department of Education, and it represents one form of financial aid that the government makes available to students who need assistance with their college costs. Through a work-study program, students with demonstrated financial need work part-time, either on-campus or off-campus, to earn money towards college expenses (and also learn valuable work skills!).
For each job-study position, the government contributes a portion of a students pay, and the school pays the remainder. Students awarded a work-study grant get that money as they earn it, in their pay check, according to hours worked, like they would with a regular job. Statewide, tuition at state-run universities is averaging $7,247 a year, meaning by working 10 hours per week, students in Evergreen State could pay their tuition and fees for one year of school.
Students who work full-time while attending college are half as likely to graduate in six years, as are students who work 12 hours per week or less. About 40% of undergraduates and 76% of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week during the academic year, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Rising tuition costs and near-stagnant salary growth make todays students unaffordable for working their way through college.
When debating how, or even whether, current students can make their way through college, it is important to acknowledge just how much tuition costs have increased since the 1970s. The old maxim simply does not apply to current college students, who are paying higher amounts than ever before for their tuition, and cannot affordably meet their expenses on a part-time income as a college student today.
Working too much while in college may be doing more harm than good, but there are other effective ways for a student to get college money. Working part-time throughout college is an excellent way to help pay for your living expenses, avoid a certain amount of student loan debt, and build skills during your undergraduate years.
If you begin at a community college, and then transfer to a four-year institution in your junior year, you could save a considerable amount of money. For many students, applying for financial aid significantly lowers what they pay every year. Princeton, for example, is one of a handful of schools that pays all admitted undergraduate students requiring financial assistance, using grants rather than loans.
Today, undergraduate graduates who borrow can expect to leave the schools with nearly $30,000 in student loan debt, according to the Institute on College Access and Success. If a students overall student loan debt is greater than the amount he or she is expected to make during his or her first year out of college, they might be unable to pay off the loans fully in 10 years. Student loan debt is now over $1.5 trillion, and many graduates are not finding jobs, despite a solid jobs report.