Students benefit from minimum wage increases

by Catherine Van Weele, Opinion Editor

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The current minimum wage in the city of San Diego is $12. Although this is far above the national minimum wage, it lags significantly behind a livable wage. 

For college students who are working, $12 an hour barely contributes anything. In the past, it was easier for students to work their way through college, but today, with rising costs of tuition and housing, it is much more difficult.

It is recommended for full-time students to work about 10-15 hours a week. If a hypothetical San Diego State student were to work 15 hours each week at a minimum wage job, they would have an untaxed earnings of $9,360 for the year. This would just be enough to cover the cost of tuition at $7,510 as well as textbooks and course materials for the whole year. 

However, this would not cover the costs of housing, food, transportation, insurance, entertainment and any other expenses that may come up. Although there are many students who are awarded financial aid and scholarships, most students end up paying out of pocket and taking out loans to cover all the costs of attending college.

This is particularly problematic at SDSU where non-local freshmen must pay upwards of $15,045 for housing and food costs for the school year. Even students who live off campus find housing costs to be expensive where the average rent for an apartment is $2,004 a month in College Area.

Asking students to work anymore than 15 hours each week would be detrimental to student academic performance. Studies have shown when students begin to work more than 20 hours a week, their grades decrease.

 Students, regardless of employment status, are enrolled in college to pursue an education and that should remain their priority. Higher wages would allow students to focus more on what they are here for without having to carry the burden of additional financial stress.

The more time spent at work, the less time for everything else. Aside from classes, working students may struggle with maintaining a social life, joining extracurricular activities on campus and practicing self-care. Often, students must choose between homework or friends, sleep or exercising and so on. 

Every day of every week must be carefully planned out to ensure responsibilities do not overlap and all those responsibilities are met in a timely manner. This includes planning out meals, errands and chores. 

It is exhausting.

Raising the minimum wage would allow students to work less hours so they can utilize their time doing something more constructive, making their schedules less stressful.

The estimated cost of attendance for in-state students at SDSU is $30,522 which includes tuition, food, housing, transportation and additional personal expenses. If a student worked 15 hours a week, to cover this expense students would need to be earning over $39 an hour. 

This number would be impossible to attain. But any increase to the minimum wage would significantly help working students. Studies show the majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage to a rate of $15 an hour. While the state of California is slowly implementing a $15 minimum wage by raising hourly wages by one dollar each year.

More can certainly be done, but this is a step in the right direction. 

Students working 15 hours on minimum wage will soon be earning more than $2,000 more with this higher pay. This amount of money could cover nearly all of one’s groceries or gas for the year. And, perhaps some of it could even be put into a savings account so students have some funds after they graduate.

College is hard enough as it is. Money should not be a limitation to success. Let’s raise the minimum wage so students be the best they can.

Catherine Van Weele is a sophomore studying political science and economics. Follow her on Twitter @catievanweele.

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