WEEK 13 — Paying the Price

ALL EXCERPTS were taken from Sara Goldrick-Rab’s pre-publication for Paying the Price.

  • How working during college appear to affect the educational experience, according to the book and your own experience?

According to the book, some work during college is a good thing. 15–20 hours of work “had no impact on grades”(p. 127) It was when students worked more than 20 hours in their first year that problems arose, specifically with dropout rates. People who worked more than 20 hours were also less likely to graduate. Families in the lower-fifth of family income distribution also reported working extensively during college; 52% (p.127) . Only 37% students from the top fifth reported working extensively (p. 127).

Working does have some benefits for students. Students who worked during school taught time management, responsibility, and helped to develop a strong work ethic (p.128) . Some students also mentioned how certain work-study programs allowed them to “do homework” and “build camaraderie” with other students (p.128).

In my personal experience with working during school, I was successful in maintaining good grades if I kept a good school-work life balance. There have been a couple times where I have pushed my limit and worked 40 hour + weeks while full-time and it has always resulted in burnout. From my mistakes I have learned not to do that and try and keep a 20 to 30 hour work week when doing full-time schooling. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to work any less.

My experience with work study is that it’s great so long as it not your main part-time job. My work study programs were very restrictive about the hours I could work and the times I could work. The best work study I had, had me work 15 hours a week and receive a little over $300 pay for 2 weeks. I’m not discrediting work studies I just think they are okay so long as you have another job as well. The part about having time to study with work-studies is very true as well; I highly recommend a library or computer lab position.

  • The financial aid system assumes parents support children during college. How does that relationship work for students in the book? For you?

Expected Family Aid Contribution is usually based off a percentage of family income. If the family is below a certain threshold than Expected Family Contribution goes down with it bottoming out at $20,000 (p.105). The expected family contribution goes up the more income a family members make. Expected family contributions often account for large portions of families annual income. In the book statistical evidence placed the net price around 30–40% of parents total income(p. 106 [chart]). Contributions are absurdly overestimated and unrealistic in general. Students below certain income thresholds may receive Pell Grants. In most cases, students take out all of there federal loan and take additional private loans (p. 107).

In my experience with the financial aid system is that Expected Family contributions grossly overestimated and have been the cause for a lot of headaches with receiving proper funding for the semester. My federal loans for this semester covered less than half of my total tuition fees for for Temple. My father, who I live with, was expected to cover the difference which he obviously couldn’t afford and it is not his responsibility to in my opinion. I think schools should only account for personal income from the student. Expected Family Contributions is just that; expected not guaranteed, and some parents aren’t willing to spend any money on higher education for their kids.