The Price That Working Students Pay For A College Education
State PIRGs' Higher Education Project
Summary | News Release
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education is one of the best investments of a lifetime. Bachelor
degree recipients earn 80% more than high school graduates,
or $1,000,000 over a lifetime in the workforce.1
Yet, a higher education is not simply a means to achieve higher
earning potential, it should also be a life enriching experience.
Colleges and universities foster both academic and personal
development from community service and civic engagement,
where students learn how to become active participants in
democracy, to team athletics, where students gain valuable
as college costs rise many students are turning to working
long hours to finance their education. Nearly half of all
full-time working students are working enough hours to hurt
their academic achievement and the overall quality of their
education. At the same time the majority of these students
(63%) reported that they would not be able to attend college
if they did not work.
decades as college costs have risen federal grant-aid has
failed to keep pace. The average grant award per student,
as a percentage of average tuition and fees at a typical public
four-year institution, has dropped by nearly one-third since
1982,2 and the typical
student now graduates with $16,928 in federal student loan
aid has helped many students to minimize the negative impact
of working and borrowing, but still lags behind what is necessary
to provide equal access to a quality education. The students
who are most likely to suffer the effects of excessive working
are also more likely to take on student debt to finance their
education. There is also significant evidence to show that
working not only impacts the quality of education, but also
these findings, students are likely to face even greater hardship
in the future. Gloomy state and federal budget forecasts have
already begun to negatively impact tuition at public institutions
and the availability of federal grant aid. In order to ensure
that access to and the quality of a college education is not
further compromised, it is our recommendation that state and
federal lawmakers should prioritize funding for higher education.
Specifically, we call for increases in student grant aid at
the federal level. Funding need-based grant aid is a proven
strategy for providing access to a college education and minimizing
the negative impacts of excessive working and college debt.
percent (46%) of all full-time working students work 25 or
more hours per week.
percent (42%) of these students reported that working hurt
percent (53%) 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
percent (63%) of all full-time working students who work 25
or more hours per week reported that they would not be able
to afford college if they did not work.
in five full-time working students works 35 or more hours
The College Board. 2001. Trends in Student Aid. Washington,
The State PIRGs Higher Education Project. 2002. The
Burden of Borrowing: A Report on the Rising Rates of Student
Loan Debt. Washington, D.C.