Tuition, need for work on the rise

By Patrick Mcgee, Staff Writer
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
June 21, 2005

When Stephani Deen and her father calculated her tuition for this fall at the University of Texas at Arlington, they realized it would jump $220.

"It was a lot more money than my dad had planned on," said Deen, of Bedford, a 21-year-old junior marketing major. "My dad was like, 'You're just going to have to work, and you're going to help us pay for it.' "

A recently released Junior Achievement survey found that more students are working summer jobs this year to pay for college than for any other reason. The organization said it's the first time in the survey's six years that college costs emerged as the leading reason for summer work.

Previously, most students said they were earning extra spending money.

Students say they are forced to work more because of the rising cost of college. Tuition at public universities in Texas has increased by more than a third since the Legislature removed tuition caps before the start of the 2003-04 school year.

Nationwide since 2003-04, tuition has increased 6 percent to $20,082 at private colleges and universities, and nearly 11 percent to $5,132 at public universities, according to the College Board.

UT-Arlington's latest hike left Deen with a $2,457 bill for the fall semester. Deen is waiting to hear back on 15 scholarships and got a 40-hour-a-week job at an Irving law office.

Night classes and studying follow her workdays.

"It's very difficult. I'll stay up probably until 1 or 2 in the morning just to get stuff done," she said.

In the Junior Achievement study, 33 percent of college students said they're working to paying for college, 31 percent for extra spending money. But extra spending money used to outpace college costs by 8 to 12 percentage points, said Brad Kaufmann, a Junior Achievement spokesman.

The organization, based in Colorado, promotes teaching business, economics and entrepreneurship to young people.

Kaufmann said the Junior Achievement poll also found that most students see the cost of college, not academic preparation, as the greatest challenge to getting a higher education.

Kaufmann said that no one wants to see tuition rise but that students can benefit from having to learn the ways of the work force.

"You're talking about dealing with customers, you're talking about building rapport with co-workers," he said. "They're gaining positive skills in the work force."

Kevin Bueker, an 18-year-old freshman, is learning those skills, often in overtime. He said he has had to work two jobs while working on a journalism degree at UT-Arlington.

He was a writer on the student newspaper and magazine and worked from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Denny's as a waiter.

Bueker said he has five scholarships and has "been taking every loan I can get."

Patrick McGee, (817) 548-5476 pmcgee@star-telegram.com