NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Do Working Students Need More Financial Aid?

April 17, 2002

More full-time college students are working longer hours than five years ago, and almost half who work more than 25 hours a week report it is interfering with their academic achievement, according to a report from the Higher Education Project of the State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs). The findings are based on analysis of Education Department data from the 1999-2000 year.

The report recommends increasing federal money for grants for low-income students. Congress is preparing to reauthorize the Higher Education Act next year.

  • Some 63 percent of those who work more than 25 hours a week say despite its interference with their studies, they couldn't afford college without the jobs.
  • Of all full-time students, 74 percent work while attending school, up from 71 percent in 1995-96.
  • Of those who work, 84 percent identify themselves primarily as students working to meet college expenses, as opposed to employees who take classes.
  • Of students working 25 hours or more a week, 42 percent said working hurt their grades, and 53 percent said it limited their class schedule.

Last month, a separate PIRG report noted that poor students are graduating with more debt.

Source: Mary Beth Marklein, "Students Say College Studies Take a Back Set to Longer Work Hours," USA Today, April 17, 2002.


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