Politicians like to say, “I worked my way through college” to prove their work ethic. But four decades ago, a year of tuition could be worked off in a summer. Compared with today’s kids, they had it easy.

In 1979, it took a student working at minimum wage ($2.90 per hour) 385.5 hours to pay off one year of the average college tuition.
If a student worked a full-time job (40 hours a week) for an entire summer, he or she would have worked 480 hours.
Each year, the average student spends 1,020 hours studying and in class.
The average full-time American employee works 2,000 hours a year.
Today, it takes 2,229 hours working at the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) to pay off one year of the average college tuition.
To be both enrolled in school full-time and work enough at $7.25 per hour to pay off one year of the average college tuition would take a student 3,249 hours.
The average American is awake for 6,278 hours each year.
It would take 7,049 hours to work off one-year’s tuition at Columbia at $7.25 per hour. There are 8,760 hours in a year.

Graphic by MGMT.design