The Good Ol' Days: Paying for college by working over the summer

<p>Recently, I have had a conversation with my dad about the cost of tuition back 30-40 years ago. I brought up the point that I have seen some mentions of paying for an entire year of college by working during the summer, and he disagreed with me. He says that back then, the wages were much lower, so the low price of college back then would be analogous to the entry level jobs and the high price of college today.
I was wondering if the cost of college was ever reachable by the means of working full time during the summer? Based on your past experiences, would you say that going to college was frequently so expensive that parents usually have to chip in for some if not the bulk of the costs?
I'm sorry if this topic has been brought up numerous times already, but I'm not sure on what to search for! Thanks!</p>

<p>I've been giving this some thought as we weigh my son's options. </p>

<p>When I went to a Texas public university, the cost was $4 a credit hour. I had accrued some money through scholarships and grants and, basically, paid for books, tuition, fees myself. My parents paid for an apartment for two years at $325/month (I think), all bills paid, except phone. I worked and paid for gas for the car and my phone bill and saved a lot.</p>

<p>I don't think my son will be able to pull that off.</p>

<p>Working an entire summer at $1.65 an hour gave me barely enough money to buy my books, and the remainder went for a bus pass and pocket money that I had to make last the rest of the year. No way would I have been able to afford tuition. Luckily, I had a full tuition scholarship.</p>

<p>I started at a private university in 1980, and needed to do the co-op program (took 2 semesters off to work in fields related to my major at good wages) in addition to several scholarships and loans, summer jobs, and lived at home and commuted for one year. Perhaps it would have been possible at a less expensive public institution, but not where I went.</p>

<p>I was able to do it in the 70's</p>

<p>Tuition was about $240 a year if I remember right and I was able to work in the oil fields, railroad, and related fields in the west where the jobs paid pretty well. It was brutal physical work but the money was great for a college students in the summer. Those jobs kept me going back to college as I knew I did not want to do that forever.</p>

<p>I did supplement this by working 10hours a week while on college in food service which also gave me one free meal a day plus wages.</p>

<p>In the late 60's I made ~$900 per summer doing factory work, and my midwest private university cost about $3K yearly for tuition/room&board. I would have had to work about 13 extra summers to cover the 4 years of tuition/r&b. </p>

<p>I covered all personal expenses and books, while my middle class parents paid the rest. The factory jobs I held were great motivators to do well in college.</p>

<p>Mid-1970s, GI Bill $275/month, no problem at state flagship. Based on a five-day "education week," each day of D1's private university exceeds that.</p>

<p>I think you could cover the cost of a state school if you lived at home. Back in the day (1970's) a year at a UC school like UCLA or Cal cost $700 per year plus books and supplies, and minimum wage was $2.50/hour. So you could earn at least $100/week before taxes if you worked full-time during the summer, more if you got a better paying job.</p>

<p>Way back when, grants were more plentiful which could reduce the COA to where you could cover tuition with part-time and summer jobs. After my first year, I went part-time making $12K/year (company paid for tuition and books), a year later, $18K and I think $24K a year later. Tuition was $3,500 the first year. In my first year, I worked full time during the summer and 14-20 hours during the school year as a hospital clerk. It paid well with a shift differential for weekends and evenings.</p>

<p>Early 80's at large state school-had to work full time every summer, part time on campus every fall and spring. Got academic scholarship, student loans, and a little help from parents. Had just enough to survive, no money left over for a car/insurance, sorority, nice clothes, or anything extra whatsoever. Student loans were manageable, paid off exactly on time and not a day earlier.</p>

<p>Had a blast, though.</p>

<p>I recently had a conversation with my father in law about this subject.</p>

<p>My nephew is a senior and will be going to college next fall. Unfortunately, his parents haven't been able to put away money for his tuition so are looking at a scary reality next year (plus have 2 younger children to worry about).</p>

<p>Anyway, I mentioned to my FIL that they were really going to be in a bind. His response - "Well, he can flip burgers to pay for his college. That's what I did." He went to college in the 50's. I didn't get into it with him about the fact there there is no way in hades that a "flipping burgers" type job would come even close to paying tuition/room/board/books/etc. </p>

<p>Times have, indeed, changed.</p>

<p>Our public flagship costs around $20,000 per year (including tuition, room, board, books). Tell me a burger place that pays a part-time college student that kind of money;)</p>

<p>It makes more sense to work very hard at school and get Merit scholarships, no taxes, clean $$$ and much more of it - potentially entire cost and a good chance of being hired at college and have some change for other expenses in addition.</p>

<p>Interesting. Just did the math on this. Started college in 1980. Minimum wage was around $3/hr then. Instate college tuition/room/board was $3200 my freshman year, and increased slightly every year. I worked during high school--including working full-time my last semester, so I had $ in the bank. I was able to save $1500 each summer working 6 days a week--while paying room and board at the park where I worked. I worked 15 hrs/wk in the dining hall during the school year, and that gave me another $1500. Junior year I spent in Europe, so I was only able to make a few hundred $ babysitting and tutoring that year. I also had $7200 in merit scholarships and $3000 total from my parents over 4 years..</p>

<p>I figure the total cost of my undergrad education was around $16,000, including the junior year abroad. Because of the scholarships, and working when I didn't really "have" to, I had thousands in the bank when I graduated--which was used to pay off my husband's undergrad debt--a wedding "present" from his parents. I must say I was extremely frugal, never had a car, always ate in the dining hall (NEVER ordered a pizza--not that I didn't get "stuck" with the leftovers at times ;) --being female helped too--someone else always paid for the beer :) )</p>

<p>At that time, you could ALMOST make the (approx.) $3500/year in-state public expenses by working at minimum wage jobs full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. If you lived at home and went to a state school, it would've been a piece of cake. Not anymore--although minimum wage has more than doubled, school costs are 4 or 5 times what they were.</p>

<p>I worked 80-90 hour weeks in the summer, and would net around $2k. I then used to work at both college bookstores during the school year. Together, that was more than my tuition at #1 LAC. Scholarships and a little help from home covered the rest. (1967-1971). </p>

<p>For the prime customers of private, prestige colleges, COA has never been less expensive, as their assets and incomes have gone up faster that COA for almost 30 years. For everyone else, it has become more difficult (but they weren't for the most part attending before in any case).</p>

<p>I started college in 1980 too. I think I probably made around $800.00 over the course of the summer, but it could be more like $1,500 as Atomom is saying, because I know I always worked, although I didn't work much the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college.</p>

<p>My college cost 12k per year. I got grants and scholarships, I took out 8k in loans (2k per year or so), and my parents really didn't pay much of anything. They mostly gave me some spending money, as I recall, but I guess I could have been pretty oblivious to what they were contributing.</p>

<p>But no, there is no way I could have earned 12k, or even 6k, working a summer job back then.</p>

<p>Back in the late 60's, I worked summers as a long-distance operator for the phone company. (Not to date myself, but that was when we didn't have direct dial yet and you had to have an operator connect you!) It was a union job and I made well over $5000 each year by putting in lots of overtime and working the midnight - 6AM shift (which paid more). That would have completely covered the cost of attending my state's flagship university.</p>

<p>However, I chose to attend a private school on a full-tuition scholarship. Because my summer earnings paid for room & board (plus books and spending money), I was able to live on-campus rather than commute the 25 miles from my parents' home each day.</p>

<p>I transfered to an OOS public in the late 70s. Working full time in the summers netted enough for books and spending money--during the school year, I did cafeteria work and took out 2500/yr loans, plus my mom did PLUS loans. No way could I have paid for school with summer earnings.</p>

<p>We recently did the math on this question - the cost of attending college now is way more in terms of relative potential income, than what it was when we went to college. I started working when I was 14 (part time, of course), and worked every summer during high school and college - sometimes 2 jobs in the summer. I did not work during college except in the summer. My parents paid for most of my tuition and room & board, and the money I earned paid for books, extra expenses, and studying in Europe for a semester. I did take out some student loans (interest rates were upside down in those years - you could take out a subsidized student loan for about 7 percent and the bank was paying around 13 percent on CD's). At the state universities, for a traditional college experience, there's no way a normal teenage job at $7-10/hour part time or even full time during the summer, would cover the approx. $20K required for the state university tuition/fees/room&board - and private schools are ranging from about $38K-$50K per year. It's pretty staggering. The loans available right now are also really expensive, compared to what you can earn in a 'safe' investment vehicle. But it's an investment in your child and their future. I still think the value of a college education is worthwhile - but there are so many really terrific colleges and universities out there that you don't have to go with the most expensive to get a great education.</p>

<p>Wow, I never really understood how hard it is to earn enough money to pay for college. I had always figured that back in the day, money wasn't as inflated,thus, earning enough for college wouldn't be too difficult. I never really thought about how much you all really needed to work to go to a public state university, much less a private (and much more expensive) one. The replies have certainly put things into perspective for me!</p>

<p>I come from a reasonably affluent neighborhood, and because of that, I never really hear my friends talk about saving up money for college; instead, they talk about getting jobs in oder to get spending money for eating out more often, or buying the latest products. I feel that teenagers now ( at least those around me, me included) HAVE to depend on their parents for longer periods of time since it's getting to the point where going to college is necessary in order to hold a well paying job. It's not uncommon to get merit scholarships and grants, but there's only so many to go around.</p>

<p>Back in my day, kids who were putting themselves through college would often work 20 hours (and more) a week and sometimes take off whole semesters to get enough money to go another semester. It was tough--there wasn't much time for a personal life--school, work, sleep, that was it.</p>