Students Can't Catch Up
Students are working longer hours
to cover the rising cost of tuition according to "At
What Cost?: The Price That Working Students Pay for a College
Education," a report released last month by The State
Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG). The result of PIRG's
Higher Education Project, the analysis also shows that not
only is the student-working trend affecting quality of academic
life, but it also threatens the ability of students to stay
in school and graduate.
Harder to quantify-but just as important
according to the report's authors-are how working students
miss out on nonacademic benefits to college life such as personal
development from extra-curricular activities such as team
sports, artistic activities, or service organizations. Other
research confirms that students who participated in community
service and other forms of civic engagement are empowered
to become active participants in their communities, and to
develop leadership skills, and are more able to contextualize
The report also indicates
that more students are graduating with large debt than ever
before. The report recommends increasing federal aid and advocates
need-based funding as a proven strategy to enable students
to devote more time to their college learning.
Of all full-time students in
1999-2000, 74% worked while attending school, up from
71% from 1995-96.
Forty-six percent of all full-time
working students work 25 or more per week. Students in
this category are twice as likely to indicate that working
has a negative impact on getting the full benefit of a
college education. Forty-two percent of these students
reported that working hurt their grades.
Sixty-three percent of all full-time
working students who work 25-plus hours per week reported
that they would not be able to afford college if they
did not work.
Fifty-three percent of all full-time
working students who work 25 or more hours per week reported
that employment limited their class schedule, and 38%
said that work limited their class choice.
The ratio of aid to tuition
has changed dramatically in the last twenty years, and
the average student aid no longer covers tuition costs.
In 1981-82, the average grant aid for students at public,
4-year institutions was $163 more than tuition; in 2000-01,
tuition exceeded the average aid amount by $822.
Full-time students who work
25-plus hours per week are more likely to have to borrow
additional money to pay for school. In 1999-00, 64% of
students who worked more than 25 hours per week graduated
with debt, whereas 49% of students who did not work graduated
DID YOU KNOW?
One in five full-time working
students works 35 or more hours per week.
Even if students borrow the
maximum amount of federal aid, it won't cover the cost
Working students are not only
less likely to graduate, but to finish their first year.
Working students graduate with
more debt; the typical student now graduates with $16,928
in federal student aid debt.
Bachelor degree recipients earn
80% more than high school graduates or $1,000,000 over