It's Almost Impossible for Students to Finance Their Own Education

It is no secret that the cost of a higher education in America is increasing each year. Year after year, students have to find a way to pay these rising costs, despite the state of the economy. So, many students feel the pressure to work, either part-time, or, in some cases, full-time, in order to offset the price of their education.

30 years ago, when the parents of college-aged students attended university, it was possible for students to work their way through college.

Photo courtesy of ayngelina/Flickr

Photo courtesy of ayngelina/Flickr

“The 1979 student would have to work about 10 weeks at a part-time job (~203 hours) — basically, they could pay for tuition just by working part-time over the Summer,” writes Randy Olson, a Michigan State University graduate student researching the possibility of working to pay for college.

“In contrast, the 2013 student would have to work for 35 ½ weeks (~1420 hours) — over half the year — at a full-time job to pay for the same number of credit hours.”

Anyone who has attended college knows just how difficult it can be for a full-time student and a full-time employee. Yet, “one in five undergrads was pulling a full-time job of at least 35 hours a week. And those part-timers were working hard, too, with more than half logging over 20 hours a week.”

College students today are working harder and longer, just to barely pay their way through college.

If paying for college did not present a big enough challenge, college students are getting less and less help from mom and dad. A recent study found that parents have dropped their annual contribution by 35% from 2010-2012. This leaves only 18% of students able to pay for their education on their own.

Photo courtesy of zack Mccarthy/Flickr

Photo courtesy of zack Mccarthy/Flickr

Even as students work harder to finance their education, they are not necessarily seeing the results of their labors. With all of the time and effort students put into thinking about and working toward paying off their debt, they are left with less time to focus on their studies.

This lifestyle demanded of students who work and study full-time may not be a recipe for success. Yet, it remains the reality for many and the trends do not indicate the possibility of a fiscal break any time soon.

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Nicole Strik