Does it pay to work while you're in school?
Summary: Is it better to have a job while you’re in college or not? Here's how to find out if working works for you.
Time to read: 2 minutes, 30 seconds
Who this is for: Seniors and Parents
Earning money while you are in school can be a great idea. But be careful.
Some studies have shown that working more than 12 hours per week can get in the way of your studies. Think about it. If you put in too many hours at work, and not enough to keep up in school, you may have to re-take a course.
The result then would be that you pay for it twice, which defeats the purpose of having that job in the first place. Not to mention that it’s bad for your GPA.
Still, if you’re careful about how you use your time, you may be able to make some extra money and help fund your education at the same time. Here are some opportunities you may want to look into:
- Part time jobs – If you make $10 per hour and work ten hours a week you could make $3,000 per school year! And you might even discover something you like to do.
- Federal work study– Fill out the FAFSA early and sign up for the Federal work study program. While this isn’t available at every school, and you still have to research and apply for available jobs, this is a special program for students with financial need.
- Semester/holiday break – Most colleges have a really long holiday break. Take advantage of this to line up a holiday job. 40 hours per week X $10 per hour X 3 weeks can earn you $1200. That still leaves a week or two to relax.
- Summers– If you work 40 hours per week at $10 per hour for 10 weeks you can make $4,000. These jobs get filled up starting in February, so scope out the good ones and apply early. Be sure to go to all the job fairs at your college and keep an eye out at the career center.
Another approach: Graduating early can make college cheaper
Most students don’t think about this, but some colleges will let you graduate early if you have taken enough credits. And that could get you into the workforce sooner, earning a starting salary. This may or may not help you save on tuition, but it will definitely save room and dining plan costs.
Think about it. It’s not unusual for a student to pay between $5,000 and $6,000 for one semester’s room and meal plan. But if you take extra courses while you are in school and graduate early, you could save that money. You might even find it’s better to take classes in the summer instead of taking a job.
If you’re thinking about going in this direction, let your college advisor know what you are trying to do so they can help you sign up for the classes you need.
Is it better to have a job while you’re in college or not? Here’s how to find out if working works for you.