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(The Atlantic)   Twenty years ago, it was mathematically possible to work your way through college with a minimum-wage job. Now? Not so much   (theatlantic.com) divider line 300
    More: Obvious, minimum wages, credit hours, institution of higher education, limiting factor, Murray State, Michigan State University  
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5614 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Apr 2014 at 2:16 PM (38 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-04-02 12:05:20 PM  
...and that would be true even if minimum wage were $15 per hour. Doubling minimum wage would cut the job hours per credit hour ratio back to the 1993 level. That is when the article said working through school became impractical.
 
2014-04-02 12:25:53 PM  
I'm not sure it's actually possible to work your way though life with a minimum-wage job, let alone through college.
 
2014-04-02 12:39:03 PM  
Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester and books for 5 or 6 classes cost a total of $150 which seemed really outrageous at the time. Working 20 hours a week in the UWM union snack bar paid for it all.

When I got an engineering co-op job and a teaching assistant gig for the Materials Science 301 lab life was even better.
 
2014-04-02 12:46:59 PM  

Cyberluddite: I'm not sure it's actually possible to work your way though life with a minimum-wage job, let alone through college.


Done in two.
 
2014-04-02 12:52:09 PM  
I couldn't work my way through college on minimum wage jobs in the 70s without taking out student loans.

For some strange calculations, because I was supporting myself on those same minimum wage jobs, I therefore was ineligible for grants or financial assistance though, i.e. free money for college.

/I still don't understand the logic.
 
2014-04-02 12:52:55 PM  

phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester and books for 5 or 6 classes cost a total of $150 which seemed really outrageous at the time. Working 20 hours a week in the UWM union snack bar paid for it all.

When I got an engineering co-op job and a teaching assistant gig for the Materials Science 301 lab life was even better.


What were the city buses like in 1972?
 
2014-04-02 12:55:16 PM  
At one point I had two jobs barely over min wage in college. Computer lab assistant for the win, do school work AND get paid. Best was pulling late hours at a rarely used computer lab so you wouldn't have to deal with anyone.

Barely paid for room and board, had loans to pay for the rest of it.

Personally I don't see what's wrong about getting student loans to pay for college. What I do think is wrong is not bothering to actually teach the kids who pay to learn and for making student loans non-dischargable. In some cases that can be a life sentence as kids can't pay off loans and wages are garnished. The US is not a fiefdom but we sure have done a lot to make it that way.

As always the answer seems to be kill all the bankers and lawyers. I'm sensing a trend here.
 
2014-04-02 12:55:54 PM  
I had to click the article and read the first few paragraphs to see if this was putting the blame on minimum wage being low, or college tuition increasing at a pace far ahead of inflation.


So, it's the latter, which to me is the critical issue. The example of a credit hour that adjusted for inflation would be around $80, but in reality is over $400 is pretty staggering.


Cool Bootstrappy Story Time,

I put myself through college with a warehouse job. It paid more than minimum wage, $10.58/hour, and I worked 28-35 hours a week, which I certainly don't recommend.

I lived at home and went to an institution in my home city. The courses for my entire degree (without books) cost $13,000 and I still needed some help from my parents to cover a few bills over the span of the 4 years.

But in the end I graduated with zero debt.


Now, what does my semi-bootstrappy story have to do with this? I lived a very lean and unglamorous college existence and paid a very cheap rate for my education, AND I STILL NEEDED HELP FROM MY PARENTS.

It's tough out there. Real tough.
 
2014-04-02 12:58:35 PM  

phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester


In case you were curious, tuition is approx. $4,700 per semester at UWM now.
 
2014-04-02 01:01:00 PM  

tallguywithglasseson: phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester

In case you were curious, tuition is approx. $4,700 per semester at UWM now.


And the bus costs a handjob.
 
2014-04-02 01:03:50 PM  

phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester and books for 5 or 6 classes cost a total of $150 which seemed really outrageous at the time. Working 20 hours a week in the UWM union snack bar paid for it all.


Then you weren't exactly supporting yourself on a minimum wage job, unless perhaps you were paying rent to your parents (at the full market rental value), not using any of the electricity/heat/etc. that they paid for, and not eating any of their food.
 
2014-04-02 01:10:26 PM  

Cyberluddite: phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester and books for 5 or 6 classes cost a total of $150 which seemed really outrageous at the time. Working 20 hours a week in the UWM union snack bar paid for it all.

Then you weren't exactly supporting yourself on a minimum wage job, unless perhaps you were paying rent to your parents (at the full market rental value), not using any of the electricity/heat/etc. that they paid for, and not eating any of their food.


You're getting into it with somebody who, in all seriousness, claims his tuition was "$400-600-ish per semester" and whose books for 5 or 6 classes cost "a total of $150."
You might as well be arguing with a plantain.
 
2014-04-02 01:14:20 PM  
Oh yeah and I too had help from my parents starting out the first two years.

It really is impossible to fund college on a minimum wage job, especially today, without help.
 
2014-04-02 01:28:30 PM  
"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob."

 -- Rand Paul
 
2014-04-02 01:41:13 PM  

thamike: You're getting into it with somebody who, in all seriousness, claims his tuition was "$400-600-ish per semester" and whose books for 5 or 6 classes cost "a total of $150."


If he's as anywhere nearly as old as I am, I most certainly believe him.  Because I paid even less.

Of course, I am old as the hills, and I graduated from college close to 30 years ago.  My tuition, at a state university (the University of Nevada), was $17/credit when I started.  For 15 credits, that would be $255/semester.  And yeah, $150 for the books sounds about what I paid (as long as I bought used ones when available).  30 years later, I see now on the university's website that resident undergrad tuition is up to $203 per credit.  That's 1200% of what I had to pay 30 years ago.

My wife graduated from college about the same time, from the University of California (Berkeley).  When my wife started at Berkeley, she paid "fees" (U.C. refused to call it "tuition" until about 2 or 3 years ago--they always said they had no tuition, only certain "fees") of $3100 as a non-resident of California, and then the next three years as a California resident, she paid fees of all of about $750 for the year ($375 per semester)--to attend one of the finest public universities in the country.  This year, 30 years later, nonresidents at U.C. pay $35,800 (1150% of what my wife paid as a nonresident) while resident tuition is now $12,900 (1500% of what she paid as a resident).

I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years.  I'm really not liking these numbers at all.  Especially since she's more interested in certain private schools, whose tuition rates make even those sound dirt cheap by comparison.
 
2014-04-02 01:42:38 PM  

thamike: Cyberluddite: phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester and books for 5 or 6 classes cost a total of $150 which seemed really outrageous at the time. Working 20 hours a week in the UWM union snack bar paid for it all.

Then you weren't exactly supporting yourself on a minimum wage job, unless perhaps you were paying rent to your parents (at the full market rental value), not using any of the electricity/heat/etc. that they paid for, and not eating any of their food.

You're getting into it with somebody who, in all seriousness, claims his tuition was "$400-600-ish per semester" and whose books for 5 or 6 classes cost "a total of $150."
You might as well be arguing with a plantain.


At least you can make the plantain into tasty chips.
 
2014-04-02 01:43:27 PM  
25 years ago, we felt that states should subsidize higher education, and we shouldn't put the burden directly on students. We changed our minds. Do you know why? It's because millenials were the ugliest babies anyone had ever seen. You scared the hell out of us, you were so ugly. We weren't even sure you were human, so we said, "Let's not fund universities for these...things."
In retrospect, we made a mistake. As adults, you're not any uglier than anyone else. But it's too late to redo that decision. Sorry.
 
2014-04-02 01:44:58 PM  

Cyberluddite: I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years. I'm really not liking these numbers at all.


I have an 8-month old.  Think of how scary this trend is to me!
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-04-02 01:48:00 PM  
Cyberluddite: U.C. refused to call it "tuition" until about 2 or 3 years ago--they always said they had no tuition, only certain "fees"

In Massachusetts the distinction is very important to the school, if not to the student. Tuition and fees go into different budgets. The school can spend fee revenue as it likes, but tuition revenue belongs to the state legislature.  Some press reports use "tuition and mandatory fees" to avoid hair splitting.
 
2014-04-02 01:49:13 PM  

Three Crooked Squirrels: Cyberluddite: I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years. I'm really not liking these numbers at all.

I have an 8-month old.  Think of how scary this trend is to me!


Don't worry America will be in full oligarchy/kleptocracy  mode at that point, paying for college with the be the least of their problems.
 
2014-04-02 01:50:06 PM  

Cyberluddite: phaseolus: Hell, that's exactly what I did for the first couple years. Lived at home, took the city bus to school, tuition was $400-600ish per semester and books for 5 or 6 classes cost a total of $150 which seemed really outrageous at the time. Working 20 hours a week in the UWM union snack bar paid for it all.

Then you weren't exactly supporting yourself on a minimum wage job, unless perhaps you were paying rent to your parents (at the full market rental value), not using any of the electricity/heat/etc. that they paid for, and not eating any of their food.



That's a valid point. If I'd gone to one of the other UW campuses I wouldn't have been able to pay for tuition and books and housing and food by working 20 hours a week for $3.75/hour. The fact that a school in my town offered programs I was interested in meant that I could live at home and keep expenses low, thus making college possible.


thamike: You're getting into it with somebody who, in all seriousness, claims his tuition was "$400-600-ish per semester" and whose books for 5 or 6 classes cost "a total of $150."
You might as well be arguing with a plantain.



What? That's actually what it cost me back then. Fall semester 1978 was $375, and it went up a bit every year. Note that I wasn't claiming that a kid could live at home, commute, and fund tuition & books at a state school by working food service jobs part time. I'm aware that stopped being possible not too long after I graduated.
 
2014-04-02 01:51:31 PM  

phaseolus: Note that I wasn't claiming that a kid could still live at home blah blah blah

 
2014-04-02 01:59:46 PM  
I worked full time for my last three years of college. It took five years to graduate, because I had to reduce my course load in order to accommodate a full-time job. I took courses during the summer trimesters.

I got really lucky and was hired into the new "Internet publishing" industry a few months after graduating with my silly liberal arts degree.
 
2014-04-02 02:00:56 PM  

Three Crooked Squirrels: Cyberluddite: I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years. I'm really not liking these numbers at all.

I have an 8-month old.  Think of how scary this trend is to me!


All I can tell you is to start putting money away now.  When our daughter was about 5 years old, we started having about $500 automatically transferred every month out of our bank account and into a 529 plan, and we figure that by the time she's ready to start college, there will be more than enough to cover tuition and some expenses for the University of California, even with the insane tuition increases in recent years.  If I could do it over, I would've started earlier, and put in more.

If she ends up going to a private university, of course, we'll have to dip into personal savings to pay--how much will depend on what kind of scholarships, etc. she can get.  It may not sound bootstrappy enough for some, but I will be paying for her education and I refuse to sentence my kid to a lifetime of student loan payments, at least for undergrad.  I've told her that she can go wherever she wants to go as long as she is able to get herself accepted, and even if it's an Ivy that costs $50K+ a year, I'll find a way to pay for it.  My parents had no money to speak of but they still found a way to do that for me (though admittedly the prices were a fraction of the current prices), and since I have the financial capacity to do so (although it won't be without struggle and sacrifice) I feel like I owe it to my kid to do the same.
 
2014-04-02 02:01:18 PM  

ZAZ: ...and that would be true even if minimum wage were $15 per hour. Doubling minimum wage would cut the job hours per credit hour ratio back to the 1993 level. That is when the article said working through school became impractical.


Isn't there a pretty obvious trend, where every dollar the state stopped giving their schools has been made up by the students?

Like, since 1993 (or whenever), the states reduced funding by $X billion (in 2014 dollars), and tuition's gone up by roughly that same figure?
 
2014-04-02 02:11:23 PM  

Dr Dreidel: ZAZ: ...and that would be true even if minimum wage were $15 per hour. Doubling minimum wage would cut the job hours per credit hour ratio back to the 1993 level. That is when the article said working through school became impractical.

Isn't there a pretty obvious trend, where every dollar the state stopped giving their schools has been made up by the students?

Like, since 1993 (or whenever), the states reduced funding by $X billion (in 2014 dollars), and tuition's gone up by roughly that same figure?


I'm pretty sure that no place is more symptomatic of that than California, especially after Prop 13 passed in 1979.   Before that, the University of California was essentially free for California residents ($0 tuition, about $500 a year in "fees"), but as I mentioned above, resident tuition at U.C. is now about $13,000 and nonresident tuition is about $36,000.  Prior to Prop 13, a huge majority of the U.C. budget (80% maybe?) came from tax dollars, and now it's something like 10%, with the rest coming from tuition, private donations, and research money.
 
2014-04-02 02:16:27 PM  

Cyberluddite: Three Crooked Squirrels: Cyberluddite: I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years. I'm really not liking these numbers at all.

I have an 8-month old.  Think of how scary this trend is to me!

All I can tell you is to start putting money away now.  When our daughter was about 5 years old, we started having about $500 automatically transferred every month out of our bank account and into a 529 plan, and we figure that by the time she's ready to start college, there will be more than enough to cover tuition and some expenses for the University of California, even with the insane tuition increases in recent years.  If I could do it over, I would've started earlier, and put in more.

If she ends up going to a private university, of course, we'll have to dip into personal savings to pay--how much will depend on what kind of scholarships, etc. she can get.  It may not sound bootstrappy enough for some, but I will be paying for her education and I refuse to sentence my kid to a lifetime of student loan payments, at least for undergrad.  I've told her that she can go wherever she wants to go as long as she is able to get herself accepted, and even if it's an Ivy that costs $50K+ a year, I'll find a way to pay for it.  My parents had no money to speak of but they still found a way to do that for me (though admittedly the prices were a fraction of the current prices), and since I have the financial capacity to do so (although it won't be without struggle and sacrifice) I feel like I owe it to my kid to do the same.


Can I make a suggestion? Make sure that the Expensive Private College she's attending is actually WORTH more than the Medium Priced State School, and doesn't just do a better job advertising.

I've worked at Expensive Private College where parents struggle to give their child what they THINK IS a better education, only to find that Expensive Private College puts their money into really, really nice dorms.

Look here: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

Also, as a financial aid adviser I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to either have her take a small loan or get a work study job, and make her deal with the FAFSA and payment system on her own. Not that she should have an excessive burden, but she should have some skin in the game.
 
2014-04-02 02:21:17 PM  
Impossible, I was reassured by a Fark Engineer that if he could work 40 hours a week at $5.50/hr, take a full class load, and drink, smoke pot, and Fark every night then someone could easily do that today.
 
2014-04-02 02:22:13 PM  
I should clarify:

When looking up IPEDS data, your most important field should be "Cohort Default Rate". This is the rate and number of students who are in federal default on their student loans. If this number is over 10% throw the school's brochure away.

/also look at graduation rate
 
2014-04-02 02:22:42 PM  
As someone in college 20 years ago. BULLSHIAT. You couldn't survive just on minimum wage back then either.
 
2014-04-02 02:23:31 PM  
Maybe people should look at the cost of college instead of the common college jobs.

I loved paying $150 a semester for a rec center that was never open due to construction.
And the $50 computer fee for computers that were never used and that had been DONATED.
Its not even nickel and diming to death anymore, its full dinner night out checking.
 
2014-04-02 02:25:00 PM  
The 'not so much' thing has really gotten stale. Please stop using it.

/I know, right?
 
2014-04-02 02:25:04 PM  
I didn't have too much trouble with my $20/hr software engineering internship in 1994. YMMV.
 
2014-04-02 02:26:53 PM  
So artificially increasing the demand for a product skyrockets the cost?  Odd.
 
2014-04-02 02:27:04 PM  
Just ask your parents for money.  Hey, it worked for Mitt Romney.
 
2014-04-02 02:27:47 PM  
If you are working for minimum wage in college you are doing it wrong.  Be a competent waiter or bartender or get an office job or sell some farking weed... If all you can find is flipping burgers, maybe you shouldn't be in college in the first place.
 
2014-04-02 02:27:53 PM  

Best Princess Celestia: Maybe people should look at the cost of college instead of the common college jobs.



This.  The higher education industry (Big School) is just as "evil" as all the other big businesses liberals rail on and on about constantly.  They convinced the country that if you don't go to college, you can't get a "good" job.  And now that everyone is convinced you can't exist in society without a college education, they have raised the costs of attending college through the roof.  College professors who work twice a week for two hours are making the same as cops and firemen.  You want to know the root cause of the problem?  There you go.
 
2014-04-02 02:28:01 PM  

Cyberluddite: I'm not sure it's actually possible to work your way though life with a minimum-wage job, let alone through college.


I bet there are some recent college graduates who would take any job right about now.
 
2014-04-02 02:29:49 PM  

Tigger: At least you can make the plantain into tasty chips.


Or fried with soft insides.  They're yummiest that way.
 
2014-04-02 02:30:52 PM  

waterrockets: I didn't have too much trouble with my $20/hr software engineering internship in 1994. YMMV.


Which probably became an unpaid internship sometime in 2002.

I was happy to get a $9/hr job with the University's Tech Transfer Office my last year and a half. It was probably the best paying on campus job and the best 'internship'. I was suppose to be a simple file clerk but I got more responsibilities the moment that senior staff quit because they hated the new director.
 
2014-04-02 02:31:16 PM  
College is a racket. It would be too expensive at a third of the price.
 
2014-04-02 02:32:06 PM  

SunsetLament: College professors who work twice a week for two hours are making the same as cops and firemen.


Or just under 20% of what a US congressman (who also works 2 days a week) makes.
 
2014-04-02 02:32:21 PM  
The last I looked it was about $700/month to got to St. Louis Community College and UMSL to get a 4 year degree (less at STLCC, more at UMSL but assuming in-state tuition).  At $7.65/hour that's about 90 hours/month or 20 hours/week.

/Where there's a will there's a way
 
2014-04-02 02:33:47 PM  
I went here and it was free.

www.ctcoxfordshire.org.uk

But you know socialisms and whatnot.
 
2014-04-02 02:34:01 PM  

what_now: Can I make a suggestion? Make sure that the Expensive Private College she's attending is actually WORTH more than the Medium Priced State School, and doesn't just do a better job advertising.

I've worked at Expensive Private College where parents struggle to give their child what they THINK IS a better education, only to find that Expensive Private College puts their money into really, really nice dorms.

Look here: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

Also, as a financial aid adviser I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to either have her take a small loan or get a work study job, and make her deal with the FAFSA and payment system on her own. Not that she should have an excessive burden, but she should have some skin in the game.


Thanks, all good advice, and certainly things that are being taken into consideration.  We (and our kid) have already been conditioned to think that maybe it isn't best to just consider what the biggest "name brand" school she could get into might be, but rather, what schools would be most beneficial long-term to her chosen course of study, and that's a very different list than the "top name brand schools" list.

As far as the student loan thing goes, I refuse to pay--or to have my kid pay--interest to those bloodsucking leeches (at least for undergrad) unless absolutely necessary, though I understand your "skin in the game" point and the work-study thing is a good option.  Also, she has saved up quite of a bit of money over the years, and she knows she has to spend it for college as her "skin in the game."  And she's gonna be on her own when it comes to paying for grad school, assuming she goes.
 
2014-04-02 02:34:05 PM  

Ow! That was my feelings!: As someone in college 20 years ago. BULLSHIAT. You couldn't survive just on minimum wage back then either.


Agreed. I went into the Army for several years and when I got out was able to use the education "bonus" (which was higher for me than average because of my particular MOS) And STILL had to work multiple jobs (on and off campus) 20-30 hours/week. I also had a PELL grant (not much but it helped) and STILL had to take out a small student loan to help me get buy. Mind you that I didn't actually pinch pennies and deny myself some fun but, on the other hand, I didn't have that much extra to spend to begin with.

I can't imagine what it would be like today, carrying a student loan debt that will follow you around for ages.
 
2014-04-02 02:34:18 PM  

Three Crooked Squirrels: Cyberluddite: I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years. I'm really not liking these numbers at all.

I have an 8-month old.  Think of how scary this trend is to me!


SIDS
 
d23 [TotalFark]
2014-04-02 02:34:34 PM  

Dr Dreidel: SunsetLament: College professors who work twice a week for two hours are making the same as cops and firemen.

Or just under 20% of what a US congressman (who also works 2 days a week) makes.


Um... College professors do research too.  Congress-critters just go spout bullshiat at meetings and suck corporate ass the rest of the time.
 
2014-04-02 02:35:53 PM  

Cyberluddite: thamike: You're getting into it with somebody who, in all seriousness, claims his tuition was "$400-600-ish per semester" and whose books for 5 or 6 classes cost "a total of $150."

If he's as anywhere nearly as old as I am, I most certainly believe him.  Because I paid even less.

Of course, I am old as the hills, and I graduated from college close to 30 years ago.  My tuition, at a state university (the University of Nevada), was $17/credit when I started.  For 15 credits, that would be $255/semester.  And yeah, $150 for the books sounds about what I paid (as long as I bought used ones when available).  30 years later, I see now on the university's website that resident undergrad tuition is up to $203 per credit.  That's 1200% of what I had to pay 30 years ago.

My wife graduated from college about the same time, from the University of California (Berkeley).  When my wife started at Berkeley, she paid "fees" (U.C. refused to call it "tuition" until about 2 or 3 years ago--they always said they had no tuition, only certain "fees") of $3100 as a non-resident of California, and then the next three years as a California resident, she paid fees of all of about $750 for the year ($375 per semester)--to attend one of the finest public universities in the country.  This year, 30 years later, nonresidents at U.C. pay $35,800 (1150% of what my wife paid as a nonresident) while resident tuition is now $12,900 (1500% of what she paid as a resident).

I have a kid who's going to start college in 2 years.  I'm really not liking these numbers at all.  Especially since she's more interested in certain private schools, whose tuition rates make even those sound dirt cheap by comparison.


CSB for a similar "U.C." school:

When I started in 1986, tuition was ~$400 per quarter +books. I had a part-time job for most of that time and made about $60 - $80 per week. I didn't exactly work my way through college because my parents contributed more than 50% of what I had to spend, but it sure as hell made college a lot more comfortable.

That same university now costs around $3500 per quarter and not only is the job I was doing in 1986 now obsolete, there's no way I would be able to find comparable work to offset those costs. That leaves aside the fact that my H.S. grades wouldn't come close to today's standards so I probably would be starting at a community college close to home anyway.
 
2014-04-02 02:36:30 PM  
http://www.camdencc.edu/registration/tuitionpayment.cfm

tuition = ~ 3,500.00 per year
part time job at 7.50 per hour gets you north of 4 grand after taxes

someone needs to get bootstrappy

/mind you we are talking about what amounts to a high school with ash trays
 
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