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The best financial advice I received about paying for college was to consider how expensive C’s can be.

Most financial awards a student receives in college are tied to maintaining a certain GPA. Typically, the requirement is 3.0 which would be considered straight Bs, but some awards may require a 3.25 or even a 3.5 GPA. C’s might get degrees, but they can also result in your student losing their scholarship or financial award.

I remember talking to my dad about getting a job to help pay for college, and he told me it wasn’t worth it if it meant I didn’t have enough time to study and maintain my GPA. At the time, I had some friends who were making about $10 an hour sorting boxes for UPS on the overnight shift. If I worked 20 hours a week, I would have made about $3000 a semester before taxes were taken out ($200 a week, 15 weeks in a semester).

I was blessed enough to have about $2500 in scholarship aid from the school each semester, but I needed to maintain a 3.0 GPA every semester to keep this award. My dad’s advice was that as much as that UPS job seemed like a good opportunity, it wasn’t going to help me pay for college if I wound up losing my scholarship because I was too tired to maintain a B average.

This is the same advice I’d give to anyone trying to find a way to make college more affordable: don’t pursue a part-time job if it might cost you your scholarship awards. Here are some practical things to think about when weighing the benefits of part-time work with your student:

  • Know what GPA requirements their financial awards require. This will probably range from 3.0 to 3.5. but it varies and it’s important to make this their goal for each semester.
  • Compare their potential earnings from the part-time job to your scholarships. The closer these two numbers are, the more they should consider the benefits of prioritizing your GPA as a means to make money instead of pursuing a part-time job.
  • Be realistic about the time it takes to work, including travel time, and how much time that leaves them to study every week. Students will often assume the best when making these decisions, but that won’t help them in the long term. Be realistic about what the time commitment is.
  • Consider waiting a semester before they get a part-time job to give them time to adjust to the demands of college academics. Part-time jobs are a great way to make a little extra money, but maybe they can wait a semester to get a better idea of what study habits they need in order to ensure their GPA stays high enough to maintain their scholarships.

Part-time jobs may be a great way to make some extra money and to develop transferable skills for the workforce. However, they can also detract from your student’s academic goals and my best advice is to consider if the time they take is worth it when compared to any scholarship awards they’ve been given.


Dr. Neil Best has been working in Higher Ed for almost 20 years. He received his PhD from Azusa Pacific University in Higher Education and his dissertation explored on the campus climate predictors of sexual assault victimization. He has professional experience working in the areas of Equity and Compliance, Diversity and Inclusion, Residence Life, Student Engagement, Leadership Development, and Student Conduct. He currently serves as Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Civil Rights Investigator at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His research interests focus on student success and sexual violence prevention and he has taught classes on Student Success, Student Conduct, and Research Methods. In his free time, he loves exploring the great state of Alaska with his partner and three young daughters.