The survey, which included students in high school, community college, online colleges, and both public and private colleges and universities, calculated that on average, these students work 19 hours a week. The survey’s sponsors say this is a direct consequence of the economic downturn. “Having come of age during the Great Recession of 2008, many of today’s students have experienced a financial wake-up call,” Linda Descano, a managing director at Citi, told MarketWatch.
But the survey results also point to the rising cost of college and the student debt crisis. Last year, college tuition jumped by 8.3 percent on average, reaching a record high of $5,189 per year. Overall, the cost of college has leaped six-fold since the 1980s.
Students are bearing more of the financial burden because most states have cut funding for higher education since the recession. One analysis found that states are spending 10.8 percent less this year, which is contributing to rising tuition and growing student debt.
Parents are also contributing less toward their children’s education. Three years ago, parents paid for 37 percent of their children’s tuition on average. Today, they only contribute 27 percent, which means students need to earn extra money while studying.
While students are working 19 hours on average, many work more than 20 hours a week and some even hold full-time jobs. While a little bit of work can often build character and teach students time management skills, too many hours of work can have negative consequences. A report from the American Association of University Professors noted that juggling work and school “creates high levels of stress and anxiety, making it less likely that students will complete their degrees.” It also found that nearly 10 percent of full-time undergraduates works at least 35 hours a week.
The survey’s findings also raise legal concerns. Many colleges recommend or even mandate that students only work 10 to 15 hours a week. And for high school students, most states limit them to 18 hours of work per week during the school year, according to the Department of Labor.