Many parents are reluctant to require their students to work during their college years. They don’t want work to distract from the main task at hand–studying and maintaining a good grade point average.
There are recent studies, including one published last year in Inside Higher Ed , however, that contradicts this assumption. The study concluded that the more money parent pay for their children’s college expenses, the worse the children perform.
According to a recent article in U.S. News even students who work as many as twenty hours a week also earn better grades. Assuming your student only earns the minimum wage, those twenty hours of work would reduce your out-of-pocket cost for college by about $3500 a year.
Another strong argument in favor of having your student have a job on campus and during the summer is that they will have a significant advantage when they enter the labor market after graduation. Any type of student job can not only help fund college costs, but also give a student valuable experience that translates to the world of work. In today’s labor market, that’s a huge benefit.
So how much should your student be able to earn on their work each year to help pay for college?
We believe it is realistic for a student to earn $3500 from campus work and an additional $1500 from summer work. That’s $5000 of “skin in the game” from your student, which means much less strain on the family budget. Besides, the first $6300 in gross income is not assessed under the Federal EFC formula.
I think it’s important to add that students need to be diligent in pursuing campus work. Jobs are not simply handed to them, even if they are eligible for federal work study. In my experience, however, those who work at finding a job usually do end up with one.
Most parents want their students to enjoy what they call the “full college experience.” That “experience,” however, will even more positive for a student who makes a meaningful contribution to his own education.
It will also help keep your retirement funds intact!