Working Your Way Through College: Myth or Reality?

How many times have you heard someone complain that there wouldn’t be a student loan crisis if youngsters had a decent work ethic?

Well, we’re here to tell you that things are most definitely not that simple. According to new research from The Education Trust, “the idea that one can work one’s way through college with a minimum-wage job is, in most cases, a myth.” 

The research shows that on average, low-income students need to work 26 hours per week (50 weeks per year) – on top of their full-time studies –  to make up the gap between their college costs and their expected college aid.

The study looked at first-time, full-time students at public universities who received Title IV aid, meaning their families earned less than $30,000. If anything, the numbers are on the conservative side, as they don’t take into account taxes, middle-to-high income families, or private universities.

In 47 out of 50 states, low-income students need to work more than 15 hours a week, making the Lumina Foundation’s “Rule of 10” Affordability Benchmark out of reach for the vast majority of low-income students. The Rule of 10 is a framework for defining college affordability and states that in order to be affordable, a family’s contribution should be capped at savings from 10% of their discretionary income over 10 years, with students working 10 hours a week while in school. 

For public community and technical colleges, the situation is only slightly better, with the average hours need to work at 16 and 12 states requiring 20 or more hours.

At Funding U we believe in both hard work and the value of a college education. However, there is a limit to the time and effort a student can give to work outside the classroom while still achieving their education goals. That’s why we provide ‘gap loans’ to students without the need for a co-signer, to help close the affordability gap without undermining a student’s education.

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