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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

At Universities, More Students Are Working Full-Time

Follow on Twitter as @Emily_DeRuy
"A quarter of all students are both employed full-time and enrolled in college full-time." summarizes Emily DeRuy, writes for Next America, an editorial venture by National Journal. 

Photo: National Journal

Most col­lege stu­dents work to pay for school. It’s been that way for dec­ades. But where earli­er gen­er­a­tions of young people could earn enough to cov­er tu­ition and oth­er ex­penses, today’s stu­dents are tak­ing out loans to make ends meet. And as the na­tion’s col­lege stu­dents be­come a more var­ied bunch, the fin­an­cial re­spons­ib­il­it­ies they shoulder are in­creas­ingly nu­mer­ous.

Ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from Geor­getown Uni­versity’s Cen­ter on Edu­ca­tion and the Work­force, there were around 20 mil­lion col­lege stu­dents in 2014, up from just 2.4 mil­lion in 1949. Sev­en in 10 stu­dents work while they are en­rolled, a fig­ure that has re­mained steady for the past three dec­ades. What has in­creased is the num­ber of hours they work.

A quarter of col­lege stu­dents are now both full-time work­ers and full-time stu­dents. Many more are work­ing closer to full-time. Nearly 40 per­cent of un­der­gradu­ate stu­dents and 76 per­cent of gradu­ate stu­dents work at least 30 hours a week, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Many are older, with fam­il­ies to sup­port. Nearly 20 per­cent have chil­dren.

As the na­tion’s col­lege stu­dents have be­come more var­ied—ra­cially, in terms of life stage, and, crit­ic­ally, wealth—the cost of earn­ing a de­gree has climbed. Stu­dent-loan debt has bal­looned bey­ond a tril­lion dol­lars. Sen. Eliza­beth War­ren is among the law­makers who has ad­voc­ated for stu­dent-loan re­form, point­ing out that when she was a stu­dent, a sum­mer job was suf­fi­cient to pay for school. Now, a stu­dent work­ing full-time earn­ing min­im­um wage would make around $15,000 in a year, which is less than tu­ition and liv­ing ex­penses at most schools. Ac­cord­ing to the Col­lege Board, an un­der­gradu­ate stu­dent pay­ing in-state tu­ition at a four-year col­lege is look­ing at about $19,000. Private four-year schools run closer to $43,000.

“Today, al­most every col­lege stu­dent works, but you can’t work your way through col­lege any­more,” An­thony P. Carne­vale, dir­ect­or of the cen­ter and the re­port’s lead au­thor, said in a state­ment. “Even if you work, you have to take out loans and take on debt.”

Work­ing, the re­port notes, can open ca­reer op­por­tun­it­ies for stu­dents. But, par­tic­u­larly for first-gen­er­a­tion and low-in­come col­lege stu­dents, work­ing long hours can lead to poor grades, or worse, drop­ping out. While stu­dents from wealthy fam­il­ies can af­ford to take un­paid in­tern­ships to gain hands-on know­ledge in their de­sired field, low-in­come stu­dents of­ten end up in res­taur­ant or re­tail po­s­i­tions.

Source: National Journal