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Student workers deserve higher wages

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An illustration of students protesting for higher pay.
Illustration by Makenna Timoteo | Staff Illustrator

About 20 million students currently attend colleges and universities in the U.S., a higher amount than ever before. Though each generation has become more educated, there is one thing that remains consistent: the incredible cost of attendance. It is no secret that the price tag for going to school is outrageously high and considered unaffordable for a majority of Americans. Though there have been recent efforts to alleviate this, it remains an obstacle that may exist for some time.

For a long time, a parent’s support in this endeavor was an expectation. Although there is a slight majority of students that do receive financial assistance from their parents, nearly half of all students attending college pay for it on their own. On average, according to data analyzed by LendEDU, students graduate with nearly $40,000 worth of debt.

With an estimated national student debt of over $1 trillion and rising, college graduates are often found struggling to pay off those loans. 32 percent of graduates spend half their twenties trying to start their career. Monthly payments can run anywhere from less than $100 to $1000, making it a troublesome time for young adults.

In the past, working part-time while taking classes was a feasible way to pay for school. However, now, working minimum wage requires students to work six times the amount of hours than it used to take 30 years ago. Therein lies a noteworthy issue.

Many students now pay for school without their parents’ help, so working a job that pays minimum wage does not cut it to make it through college.

Student workers are put in tough situations. They put in hours of work into the university and do not get as much out. Tuition is only one of the facets of this obstacle for student workers. Meager wages also makes it difficult to pay for rent, groceries and transportation, all of which are essential to accessing the university.

The obligation of students working in addition to school also limits their ability to focus on their studies. Students will spend time working at their university job instead of studying for an exam, out of the necessity to have food or shelter.

There are students who receive scholarships and financial assistance because of their academic excellence. This contributes to the university’s success. It also allows students to graduate with little debt as possible. There should be a marginal amount of assistance given to those who work jobs on campus that keep the institution afloat.

The role of student employees should be regarded with great importance. Just like any other job, students must submit an application and undergo an intake process to be deemed fit for employment. The services students perform are legitimate jobs, such as IT, administration or research and data entry, as well as maintenance for the university.

For the work they do, students deserve larger wages. It is imperative for on-campus jobs to provide enough to help them pay for school and also help sustain students after they graduate and move into the real world.

With the direction things are going in terms of students shouldering more debt, the rate at which we pay our student workers is a pivotal factor in our working class’s quality of life.

– James Debbah is a computer science junior

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