Nowadays, most students work part-time during college but there are still a great number of students who fear that working while in school will affect their grades. These students might get better grades now, but they will likely face serious consequences in the future in the form of significantly higher student loan debt. That’s because those who do work during college can potentially avoid over $17,000 in loans.
Since the average student graduates with $35,000 in student loans, working just 15-20 hours each week could slash many students’ debt in half. This would potentially save borrowers thousands more in interest charges and allow them to repay their student loans years earlier.
If a student were to work 20 hours per week at a part-time job where they got paid $7 per hour, they would make $4480 over a typical 8 month academic term. That adds up to $17,920 over four years.
If they were able to make more money per hour, then they will have to work less. For example, if they made $10 per hour, they would only need to work 15 hours per week to make $4,800 per year or $19,200 total. If the student used those funds to offset their student loans, then they could potentially graduate with much smaller student loans.
How to Balance a Job and School
The reason why many students don’t take on part-time jobs while in college is that it can be incredibly difficult to balance the demands of part-time work and full-time school. Some students struggle to keep up on their courses or find that working makes it impossible to have a social life.
One trick to successfully combining work and school is for students to strategically schedule their courses in order to equally balance their hard classes over both terms. This allows them to have more free time spread throughout the year that they can use to work part-time.
Another trick is for students to start a side business or side hustle instead of working an hourly part-time job. A student might have a skill or talent that they could potentially market such as their ability as a photographer or as a graphic designer. Freelance jobs like these pay well, allow them to work less, and provide them with more control over their schedule and time. That means they could work more during slower periods in the term while focusing on school during exam periods.
FAFSA and Student Aid Drawbacks
The good news is that working while in school will have little effect on a student’s financial aid. In 2015-2016, every student is able to report $6,310 in income on their FAFSA before money earned by the student is factored into financial aid calculations.
If a student does make more than $6,310 per year, 50% of those funds additional will be assessed towards their family contribution.
Is Working Right for You?
Working part-time while attending school can be the perfect solution for some students, but it might be impossible for others. Your classes might be too challenging or you might have other family or extra-curricular commitments that interfere.
If you’re not sure if you can swing a part-time job and school, get a job for a term and see how it goes. Not only will working while you’re in school help you financially, but it will also potentially impress employers once you graduate and are looking for work. If working during school is not an option, you can also consider working during your summer break.
If you’re wondering why it’s so important to minimize the student loans you take out – check out this survey. It lists some outrageous things that graduates would do to get rid of their student loan debt!