The True Cost of Student Employees

Biology major Sarah Gorman works as many as 35 hours a week. The Point Loma Nazarene University junior balances 17 units with supporting herself and her family in Los Angeles. Gorman does receive financial aid, but it is not enough to live on to pay her bills and attend college. She says that she feels guilty if her mother has to dip into her savings to help towards living expenses; her mother’s savings is part of her retirement since her father passed away.

When looking for schools, PLNU gives an average yearly financial aid package of $27,590, and it states that 90 percent of PLNU undergraduates are awarded financial aid. It also states that 87 percent of students graduate in four years.

Out of 18 million undergraduate students, more than 40 percent attend community college, and of those, only 62 percent can afford to go to college full-time.

Over half of all undergraduates live at home in order to make their degrees more affordable and some of these students work at least part- time during the week. About a quarter of them work full-time and go to school full-time.

There are talks of demographics and policy change, but the students are currently stretched thin, making each and every day an ordeal drawing in the fact that many students drop out before graduating.

“Don’t work during college if you don’t have to, It’s not something I would recommend.” Gorman says. She has learned to balance responsibility and this will all look great on her resume, but her social life and emotional life have taken a hit by choosing this route. Gorman plans to take more then four years to graduate and she is hopeful that she will be able to afford graduate school in the future.

There are statistics presenting the facts that some students born wealthy have an upper hand to go to college, whereas a student born of a lower class has a glass ceiling. Even when lower and working-class students go to college, they struggle to graduate in comparison to their wealthier peers. The statistics show that this gap has widened. Part of this gap is because students from poor families are more likely to go to colleges with lower standards and thus lower graduation rates. These schools usually have fewer resources in comparison to a flagship state university.

Students, just like Gorman, will have to keep working hard burning the midnight candle in order to make ends meet. Her educational goals and future depend on it. Her work and school have become her new way of life. If all goes as she plans, she will have beaten the statistics.


About the author

Lory Costello-Neeley

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