College students work longer hours to pay their tuition bills

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School work isn't the only kind of work that's a concern for students. Many have part time jobs, or nearly full time jobs to help pay tuition bills. Some are finding those jobs a more important part of their financial plans as other sources of funding dry up.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

Corky's Bar in Fairhaven is the kind of small-town beer joint where the bartender knows your favorite drink and has it ready before you sit down.

On a recent afternoon, bartender Morgan Quinn served up drinks to a crowd of about a dozen locals.

Morgan Quinn
Morgan Quinn, a 20-year old senior at St. Cloud State University, works three jobs to pay her college tuition. She's a bar tender, a math and reading tutor and also works at a nursing home.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

Quinn is a 20-year old senior at St. Cloud State University. This is one of three jobs she'll hold down while finishing up her last year in school.

She also works at a nursing home, and tutors elementary students in math and reading. It means plenty of hours of work for the energetic linguistics major.

"It'll be 12, plus the ones here," Quinn said. "So between 30 and 35 I think."

Quinn doesn't have trouble balancing her busy work life with her studies and she feels good that those three jobs help pay her $7,500 annual tuition bill.

"That and the regular subsidized and unsubsidized loans," Quinn said. "It works out well."

Valerie Knopp
Valerie Knopp with St. Cloud State's financial aid office, says more students are working longer hours because of rising tuition costs, the slow economy and a smaller pool of aid for students.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

Students working long hours to pay tuition is becoming more common, according to Minnesota college officials.

Valerie Knopp, with St. Cloud State's financial aid office, said that's because of rising tuition costs, the slow economy and a smaller pool of aid for students.

"They may not be getting as much support from their parents because their parents have other obligations they need to meet," Knopp said. "The grants might not be sufficient if they have grants, or loan limits might not be able to be there to pay for some of those educational costs, so I think that's where some of those additional work hours are coming."

Officials at the University of Minnesota, where a year of tuition now costs about $10,000, are seeing a similar trend among their students.

Judy Gelina, coordinator of student employment programs at the U of M, said her school is prepared for the crush of students looking for work. As she scrolled through the student employment Website, she said any student who wants a job should be able to find one.

"As you can see there are about 20 per page and we have currently 12 pages of open positions," Galena said.

Kevin Klein
University of Minnesota junior Kevin Klein says his parents don't require him to work to help pay for school, it's something he wants to do.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

There are about 6,000 jobs available for students on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. They pay anywhere from $8 to $12 dollars an hour.

Gelina said in the past some students searching for work did so reluctantly.

"Now I am really seeing a keener interest on the part of students in finding work," Galena said. "Because they're having to put together a package and they understand that student employment is one of those pieces."

The University of Minnesota sees value in students working, but Galena recommends students take it easy if they can. She likes to see freshman hold off on taking jobs during their first semester and she recommends everyone else limit the hours they work.

University of Minnesota junior Kevin Klein has figured out what his limits are. Klein, a vocal arts major, works on campus in catering and in the department of music.

"I don't want to go over 10, 15 hours a week," Klein said. "Just because I think that anything more than that I might be pushing it too much with all the credits I have."

Klein said his parents don't require him to work to help pay for school, it's something he wants to do.

But financial aid officials at Minnesota colleges expect they'll see more students this year who need to work, and need to work longer hours to pay for tuition.

At the same time they're encouraging students to watch their personal finances, so students aren't spending too much on entertainment or gadgets for their dorm rooms, when they should use that money to help pay for school.

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