College students juggle work, school schedules
|Carbon High school senior and CEU student Erin Barker punches the clock. Barker is currently enrolled in both institutions and works 30 plus hours per week.|
With spring semester classes beginning at College of Eastern Utah on Jan. 8, many students are preparing to get back to school and return to work.
More and more college students are facing full-time work and school demands.
According to CEU student Jared Hunsaker, he has worked 40 plus hours per week while maintaining anywhere from 15 to 18 credit hours during the last three semesters.
"There are eight kids in my family so my parents really can't afford to pay for college. I worked really hard to get a scholarship and that helps, but you still have to live." stated Hunsaker.
The scholarship Hunsaker received pays for tuition, fees, and partial housing.
"But I do have two credit cards that are close to the max and I have used them several times to buy books."
The College Board reports that nearly 24 percent of undergraduate students have been using credit cards to pay tuition and other fees associated with higher education.
According to the national data compiled by the board, published tuition and fee charges at two-year public colleges currently average $2,272, $90 more than last year.
Reductions in revenue from funding sources other than tuition, particularly state and local appropriations in the public sector, were associated with rapidly rising public college tuition levels in recent years.
The state has experienced a 9 percent per year average increase in tuition during the past five years, according to Amanda Covington, director of communications for the Utah Board of Regents
The College of Eastern Utah has seen tuition climb from $1,249 in 1995-1996 to $1,886 in 2003-2004 for full-time students, according to the board of regents annual report to the governor. The tuition figures reflect the expense shouldered by students with 15 credit hours during a two-semester period.
To help offset the rising cost of tuition and living in general, college students may apply for a federal Pell grant.
The Pell grant program is a post secondary education subsidy operated by the federal government.
The Pell grant is the largest need-based financial aid grant program in the county.
The grant program is named after Sen. Clairborne Pell.
Funds are awarded based on a "financial need" formula determined by the United States Congress through criteria submitted through the free application for federal student aid.
The FAFSA applications are available online to local students with Internet access at www.fafsa.ed.gov or from the college in Price.
For 2006-07, the maximum Pell grant available to students remains at $4,050.
Due to major increases in the cost of post secondary education and slow or no growth in the financial aid program, the value of Pell grants has eroded significantly during time.
In 2005-06, the maximum Pell grant covered one-third of the yearly cost of higher education at a public four-year institution.
Twenty years ago, the Pell grant covered 60 percent of the related costs.
The Pell does not work for some students entering college, however.
Erin Barker, a Carbon High senior who is currently enrolled at CEU and will graduate from high school early, will be paying a major portion of her college tuition on her own.
Because Erin's parents still claim her on their taxes and make a living wage, she will not be eligible for the total available from the federal government.
Erin also works 30 plus hours a week while attending high school and college.
CEU provides other financial aid alternatives to alleviate colaid alternatives to alleviate college costs for students.
CEU provides in-house academic honors and general academic scholarships based on a student's ACT score and high school grade point average.
A full list of scholarships and college offered student grant and loan programs is available to residents with Internet access at www.ceu.edu.
The programs are aimed at assisting students pay for college educations.
But students have to live.
Cars, food, rent and cell phones are expensive.
This situation frequently means being enrolled full time as well as working a full time job.
"Yes, working as much as I do does affect my schooling. But I also worked 40 hours a week in high school. It is always what I have had to do to have the things that I want and need," concluded Hunsaker.