Here’s proof that you can’t afford to work your way through college anymore


Reported By Liku Zelleke

Bussing tables to get through college was once something that was feasible. A good college education was something that could be covered by waiting tables and collecting tips.

Not anymore.

Without financial aid and family resources, it is estimated that an average college student would need to complete an almost impossible 48 hours of minimum-wage work per week to pay for tuition fees.

The odds are stacked against the college student of today, who are being hammered by unprecedented price increases for the cost of college attendance. Every year, a senior has to pay a little more than his peers who graduated in the previous class.

Students that have always felt that today’s college education fees are inflated have found it to in fact be true. A user on Reddit started a thread on the topic. He focused on Michigan State University and how its fees have risen since 1979. He wrote:

This is interesting. A credit hour in 1979 at MSU was 24.50, adjusted for inflation that is 79.23 in today dollars. One credit hour today costs 428.75.

Others started to comment and soon they figured out that in ’79 the minimum wage was $2.90 and working a full day, a student could earn enough to pay for one academic credit hour. If a course load for one semester consisted of, say, 12 credit hours, a student could cover it with 2 weeks’ minimum-wage work.

Today, according to the calculation above, it would take 60 hours of minimum-wage work to pay off a single credit hour, which costs $428.75.

In an article that has crunched all the numbers, Randy Olson (a PhD student himself), thinks that the idea of working one’s way through college is an ethos that “seems to be the latest generation’s version of the American Dream … but the way this trend is going, it looks like even long and hard hours at work won’t even pay off anymore.”

He declares to the past generation that paid its way through college and expects this one to do the same, “Stop telling us to do it just because you did a decade or more ago.”


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