In the long run, earning a college degree should mean that your lifetime income will be substantially higher than what you’d make without one. But in the short term, it can be tough to pay the cost of getting that degree. Students who are struggling to make ends meet as they face their next tuition bill may be wondering if it makes more sense to get a job, or if they’d be better off taking out larger student loans.
Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks. Increasing the amount you borrow means you’ll have to pay more back after you graduate, which causes anxiety for many students. It’s not unusual for today’s graduates to spend a decade or more paying off their student loans. However, choosing loans over work means you can spend more time concentrating on your classes.
Working part-time while going to school can help you cover the cost of classes, housing, and all those other expenses. It can also help you learn valuable lessons about time management that will pay benefits throughout your career. On the downside, students who work while they’re in college are actually less likely to complete their degrees on time. That’s because it can be hard to manage the demands of a job and studying at the same time. Students can became overwhelmed, or they may take fewer hours of classes, which means paying tuition for more semesters. In addition, income you receive from working might reduce your eligibility for financial aid.
No two students or situations are exactly alike, so it’s important to do what’s best for you. If you do decide to work, limit the number of hours at your job. Some experts recommend that full-time college students work no more than 12 hours a week, so they have enough time to study. And, if you choose to both work and take out loans, put part of your pay in a savings account, such as our Membership Savings Account. That way, you’ll be able to pay off at least part of your loans soon after graduation.