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June 26, 2019

Pennsylvania is the worst state to pay your way through college, per report

Keystone State residents have to work nearly 120 hours per week, on average, to make ends meet

Education Labor
University of Pennsylvania general shot Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Pennsylvania residents would have to work 119.6 hours per week to pay their way through a traditional four-year college program, according to a new report.

The age-old idea of being able to pay your way through college with a collection of minimum wage jobs and hard work doesn't exist anymore, especially not in Pennsylvania, according to a new report, 

TextbookRush, a web-based textbook company, took two straightforward sets of data – minimum wage in all 50 states, and average in-state tuition and living costs in all 50 states – and looked into how each set affects students' abilities to emerge from college debt-free.

Pennsylvania, it turns out, is the worst of all.

Minimum wage in Pennsylvania remains $7.25, the federal minimum, despite a 259% increase in the cost of attending a public, four-year, higher education institution, according to TextbookRush. There are, of course, current efforts to raise the state's minimum wage, but in 2019 there are thousands of workers across the Keystone State still making $7.25 per hour.

Because Pennsylvania's minimum wage is as low as it's allowed to be, and because Pennsylvania has the second-highest average in-state tuition in the country, the state is a brutal place to try and pay your way through college, TextbookRush determined.

Pennsylvania residents would have to work 119.6 hours per week to pay their way through a traditional four-year program, the report concluded:

"Students brave enough to try to pay for their tuition and housing in the Keystone State will have to work the equivalent of three full-time jobs on top of their schoolwork to break even."

New Hampshire finished second, roughly five hours per week behind Pennsylvania, with Virginia, Indiana, and South Carolina rounding out the top five. 

The easiest state to pay your way through college? Washington, which would require a relatively sparse 52.45 hours per week – although that still represents four years of a full-time job, and 12.45 hours of overtime each week, while also taking a full course load.

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