About 40% of undergraduates work while in college, according to the Department of Education, but it’s unlikely they’re paying for their entire education. Most graduate with student loan debt. In order to graduate completely debt-free, working students would overextend themselves. Most full-time students take about 15 credit hours, which accounts for an estimated 30-45 hours of learning in and out of the classroom each week. Add to that 25-50 hours of work and you have an unsustainable schedule that is not conducive to learning, let alone getting good grades.

When loans are needed, borrow strategically State and institutional grant aid has climbed over the same period that net price of college has come down, according to data from the College Board. The two are directly related: College grants reduce the out-of-pocket costs of higher education. Grants can be based on a student’s financial need or merit. Still, in the 2020-2021 school year, undergraduates borrowed $44.7 billion in federal student loans. Loans are often a necessary part of going to college, and students would be wise to not jeopardize their chances of earning a degree by running themselves ragged at a job that may not have a dramatic impact on their bottom line. Here are some tips for working students to manage it all: Set a sustainable schedule. This goes for both your job and school. Taking on too many work hours or credit hours can hurt your chances of success when it comes to earning your degree. Fill out the Free Application for Student Aid ( FAFSA ). Fill the application out as soon as possible, every year. Some financial aid is first come, first served and waiting until the last minute could mean having fewer available grant funds. And grants don’t have to be repaid – we like grants. Apply for scholarships, every year. Incoming freshmen aren’t the only ones who should be scrambling to apply for scholarships. Keep an eye out for this type of “free money” throughout your college career, and apply every chance you get. 3 2 1

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