By Erin McPhersonAssociated PressCollege students, who are often among the youngest people in the workforce, are getting a shot in the arm.
Many colleges and universities are seeing a surge in their student population as the economic downturn continues to hit hard, especially for lower-income students.
Many of them are seeking to attract more financial aid students, including some of the nation’s largest public and private universities, which rely heavily on their students for student aid.
The trend has been especially pronounced at schools with the highest cost of attendance, such as public and Catholic universities.
“It’s been really hard to find students willing to work as hard as we did in the past to get their degrees,” said Stephanie DeYoung, associate vice president for financial aid at the College Board.
Students are increasingly willing to do some unpaid internships and even volunteer their time, said Nicole Kupfer, president of the Association of Private Colleges and Universities.
She said she was surprised to see that many colleges are hiring.
“When I first started at [one] school in the ’90s, there were about 60 students that I had to work with.
Now, we have about 120 students that are working on their degrees, and that’s really an increase,” she said.”
The problem is that the majority of our students are getting loans, and the only thing we can do to try to increase their earnings is to work,” she added.
Many students who are already enrolled in school are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for school.
They are taking on student loans or working part-time jobs.
“Some of them just can’t afford to live,” said Nicole DeYoung.
Some students, especially those who have been working for years, are turning to loans as a way to pay their bills, said Kimberly A. Grosch, a senior associate dean at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit group that tracks college costs.
“I do think the trend is that more and more students are trying to balance their needs and financial needs,” she told AP.
Grosch added that it is important to remember that college is a lifelong process.
“As a student you don’t really have to worry about a debt for the rest of your life.
That’s a really valuable thing,” she explained.
A lot of students have the financial resources to pay off their debt, said DeYoung of the College Fund.
But it’s important to understand that college loans are very different from mortgages, which can be forgiven or discharged if a borrower makes a down payment of $100,000 or less.