College costs soar, and wages cover less of tab

LEVITTOWN, Pa. - If you have any doubt about the value of a college degree, just look at the employment numbers. Overall unemployment is at 9.1 percent, but among college graduates, it's just 4.5 percent.

But college doesn't come cheap. It costs an average of $16,000 for public school and $36,000 a year for private. And many students are working overtime to pay the bill, as CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports.

Twelve years of studying earned Emily Gibbons a high school diploma, but her real work was just beginning.

All summer she's been working 12-hour day: 9-5 at a label company, where she makes $9 an hour checking the shipments before they go out the door. Then she races home to change her clothes for a 6-10 shift at Pizza Hut, where she makes $7.40 an hour.

At the end of the day, "I just want to sleep," Gibbons says. "I just want to go home and go to bed. I don't want to hang out with my friends -- I just want to sleep."

But her wake up call is the cost of the public college she's attending come fall; Since 2000, annual tuition at public universities has doubled, from around $8,000 to more than $16,000.

"We're not rich around here," Gibbons says. "We have to help our parents with this. We can't just not work and expect to get through college and be ok."

Her university will run about $18,000 a year. She's expecting about $5,000 in financial aid and another $5,000 or so from her summer jobs.

To make up the difference, she's trying to get student loans, but she says, "It's not working out."

In 1980, a 10-week summer job at minimum wage meant a teenager could save up about half of the cost of a year's tuition at a public university. Today, that same minimum wage job covers only 18 percent.

Guidance councilor Palmer Toto sees the pressure building on his students.

"For this generation of course there is less money and there is a greater need. Tuitions are higher and costs are higher. So it's coming at them from both ends and it's very difficult," he said.

Gibbons knows that summers and the years after college will be spent paying down the cost of attending.

She may be struggling, but she does feel lucky -- nearly a quarter of her peers nationwide are unemployed.

  • Seth Doane

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