So let’s do a brief thought experiment type thing about American college tuition. I’ve heard more than one person tout the “I worked during the summer so I could pay for school” idea, and I find that hella interesting.
So let’s say you worked eight weeks (June 1-Aug 1) at minimum wage, 25 hours a week. “Why 25 hours a week,” you ask, “when full-time is 40 hours a week?” For one thing, I don’t think it’s fair to ask an 18 year old to graduate high school and immediately begin working full time at a minimum wage job in order to pursue an education to (presumably) avoid working full time at a minimum wage job. For another, it’s actually pretty fucking difficult to get full time hours at a minimum wage, entry level job — full time means benefits, so nearly all places would rather keep you just under the full time cut off. But I’ll run this math with both 25 hours, the reasonable projection, and 40 hours, the insane workaholic idealistic projection.
8 weeks x $7.25 x 25 hours = $1,450
8 weeks x $7.25 x 40 hours = $2,320
If our theory is that a high school graduate should be able to work over the summer and make enough to pay for college the next year, college should cost no more than $2,320 per year. That includes tuition, books, and class fees — I’ll give room and board a pass because I don’t think that’s a feasible adjustment to make at this point. TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS, PEOPLE. FOR A YEAR.
There are 168 hours in a week. If you worked literally all of those hours, which is obviously impossible both physically and financially. you would make $1,218. In a summer, you would make between $9.744 and $12,180 WHICH IS STILL. AT MANY SCHOOLS. LESS THAN A YEAR’S TUITION.
This is impossible. Just for comparison, LSU, my darling state university subsidized by the state which accepts state scholarships like TOPS, charges in-state residents about $8,7000 a year in tuition and fees. Out of state residents pay $26,476 — again, only in tuition and fees, not books or living space or food (or parking, or the dozen other ways a university charges you money). Housing and food are an estimated $10,000 more per year.
I’ve been out of college for several years now, and I don’t regret having gone. I test exceptionally well, and my bachelor’s degree cost me no money; I actually made money off of scholarships and federal grants. Grad school brought in some student loans, but still, I am extremely fortunate in this country, and I know that. But my youngest sister is sixteen, and my stepsister has two children. College tuition and the incredibly fucked up market that is the American educational system don’t stop mattering when you graduate, or when I do. This is unacceptable, and it has to change.