A college education is expensive. Tuition, books, housing, food and other living expenses add up fast. While financial aid packages may include grants, scholarships and federal student loans, these funds are rarely enough to cover the full cost of attendance. This leaves many students wondering whether they should work part-time during the school year or take out more loans.

Before you fill out a job application, weigh the pros and cons of working while in college versus using private student loans to cover expenses.


The Case for Working in College

You could leave school with less debt. It seems pretty simple — the less you borrow, the less you’ll have to repay. But even if you limit your borrowing, you could still end up paying more than you’d planned.

Interest charges accrue for most debt upon disbursement of the loan, with the exception of subsidized federal student loans. If you don’t pay the interest as it’s added to your loan balance, you’ll owe more than you originally borrowed. This is due to compounding interest. Extra money from a part-time job could help you chip away at the interest before you leave college.

You could have an advantage when seeking future employment. A part-time job could help you develop the soft skills many employers look for when vetting job applicants in your chosen career. Skills such as leadership and time management aren’t typically developed in the classroom. A college job can help you hone these interpersonal skills, which can give you an edge post-graduation.

You could improve your money management skills. Even if you received an A in Personal Finance 101, there’s nothing like taking what you’ve learned and putting it into practice. When you work while attending school, you’ll be forced to track your income to ensure you have enough to cover your expenses. This budgeting experience can help you establish smart financial habits that will endure long after graduation.


The Case for Applying for a Private Student Loan

Working while in college could increase your risk of dropping out of school. Working while attending college has its benefits, but working too much might be detrimental to your education. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, working more than 15 hours per week could increase your chances of dropping out of school. Even if you don’t quit school, your grades might suffer. Funds from a private student loan can remove the need to work while in college and allow you to focus on your studies.

You won’t have to sacrifice your study time or social life. Even if you cap your work hours at 15 per week, those hours are now unavailable for studying or experiencing other aspects of college life. Students who are already struggling academically may also want to rethink cutting back on their study time in favor of a part-time job.

You might be able to borrow far more than you could earn during a school year. The amount you earn from a part-time job is likely to be less than what you’ll need to completely eliminate money worries. Working the maximum recommended 15 hours may only offer a fraction of the amount needed to cover your expenses. On the other hand, a private student loan can provide enough funds to pay for your expenses without requiring you to adjust your lifestyle.

Working while pursuing your degree isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to paying college-related expenses. A private student loan can supplement earnings from a part-time job or cover the costs of your entire educational program. Apply now or learn more when you visit LendKey’s Private Student Loan FAQ page.

Please note that the information provided on this website is provided on a general basis and may not apply to your own specific individual needs, goals, financial position, experience, etc. LendKey does not guarantee that the information provided on any third-party website that LendKey offers a hyperlink to is up-to-date and accurate at the time you access it, and LendKey does not guarantee that information provided on such external websites (and this website) is best-suited for your particular circumstances. Therefore, you may want to consult with an expert (financial adviser, school financial aid office, etc.) before making financial decisions that may be discussed on this website.