Oct 14, 2008

To work or not to work: Balancing education and finances

by Bridgett Scales

Among economic issues and debt in our country, less government aid is being given to college students than ever before, causing many students to work throughout school to either pay for their tuition or for extra college expenses.

As if college is not hard in itself, students who work are forced to balance their work schedules and class schedules so they will not fall behind in their school work. They have less time to study, which in turn hurts their homework, quiz, and test grades and eventually GPA.

A survey conducted by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities showed that students who work long hours have less time to study and often rely on credit cards to pay for tuition and books. Of those who participated in the survey, 80 percent said that they worked now, had worked before or will work in the future years just to help pay for college. In the same survey, about 17 percent of students said that they had stopped taking classes all together for at least one semester due to having to earn more money for educational expenses.

Liberty junior Michelle Rodriguez works an average of 30 hours a week, takes 18 credit hours and has already planned to cut her credits in half and take more DLP classes than residential classes.

“By the time I get off work, I am already tired and then I have to force myself to do my school work,” Rodriguez said.

Debt is also a major factor when college students decide whether or not to work while in school. In 2003, Congress passed a bill that cut back on government funding for college students, causing students to rely more on private student loans with higher interest rates. This may have been good for the college students at that particular time, but these college loans accrue so much interest that it makes it nearly impossible to pay them right back in the allotted time given by the private loaning companies

With interest rates generally around 6.8 percent on an $18,000 loan, graduating students can expect to pay $204 a month for 10 years, according to the Financial Aid Finder Web site. On such a loan, one can also expect to pay an additional $6,900 alone due to interest.

On the contrary, if a student is able to work a hefty load and still succeed in college, the student will gain more than a degree. Making decent grades and maintaining a high GPA while working is success in itself. It teaches the student motivation, determination and a sense of independence.

A student who works and pays for college may also have a much higher appreciation for that education. It is much like someone just handing a high school graduate a new car. Sure, he will be thankful for it, but if he had worked and paid for every penny of that vehicle, he would appreciate it much more. Education is the same way.


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