CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Minimum-Wage Work Alone Won’t Get You Through College

Politicians and pundits love to talk about the character-building experience of working your way through college. But how realistic is that ideal? As one way of answering that question, here’s a thought experiment: Let’s say you’re planning to attend your state’s best-known public university (at the in-state rate, naturally) and you’re hoping a minimum-wage job will cover the cost. How long would you have to work at that job to recoup a year’s worth of tuition and fees?

We’ve created a tool to show you.

To start, we took the average in-state tuition and fees for each state’s flagship institution, dating back to 1998. Then we pulled together each state’s minimum wage over the same time frame. We adjusted all that data for inflation.


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