Photo: star5112 via Flickr
Age in the Workplace

New survey shows majority of college students are working and paying their own tuition

Going to college already feels like a full-time job— but a new study finds that the majority of college students now are working students with jobs. The study, from apartment search service ABODO, reveals just how expensive college has become for most students.

Using government census data, ABODO found that 52% of college students are working at least 27 weeks per year.

In its survey of 3,500 college students, the service found that more students are bearing the burden of paying for their education on their own. Only 11% of students said they weren’t responsible for any of their college costs and 24.4% of students said they were fully responsible for covering all of their own college costs.

How can these working and studying professionals pay for colleges? The answer to this difficult equation, according to ABODO’s working college respondents, was using every source of cash flow they could find.

“Working students fund their college experience through several income streams: partial scholarships and earnings and loans,” Sam Radbil, ABODO’s senior communications manager told Ladders.

Alaska was found to have the highest percentage of working students at 72.9% and more working students were found to live in the western parts of the United States.

More working students bear burden of paying for college

When the average public university’s tuition costs $8,070 a year for in-state students and minimum wages for entry-level jobs are stagnating, the math for paying for tuition and living expenses as a student may not make sense.

Around 70.2% of students said they planned to to use their own earnings and savings without economic help from their family. 59.7% were using scholarships and 56.7% were using loans. The top three things these earnings went towards were college living expenses: food, books and transportation.

How to balance work and studies

Many working college students do so out of need and not desire. But there are unforeseen benefits to the commitment of working for your degree.

The ideal number of working hours for a student is 10 to 15, according to multiple studies. That’s the ideal workload a student can handle along with their studies. Research has found that students who work 10 to 15 hours a week are more likely to stay in school than those who do not work at all or those who work more than fifteen hours per week.

Unfortunately, too many students are working above that number, with one out of every 10 full-time students working at least 35 hours per week in 2010. Colleges can ease that burden by giving working students the tools and resources to find academic and working success.

But until colleges change on an institutional level by lowering tuition rates and increasing need-based grants, the financial burden will be largely up to students to juggle school and work.