Students take on more hours to pay bills

University of Minnesota sophomore Alex Mena canâÄôt work as much as he would like to, but misses out on study time because he goes home to work on weekends. Mena said students have to choose between taking a full credit load and working minimally while racking up debt, or they can work full-time and take fewer classes, delaying graduation. âÄúItâÄôs kind of a lose-lose situation,âÄù he said. Having a job while going to school has become a necessity for many University students, but working more hours can negatively affect class and college life. According to Boynton Health ServiceâÄôs 2007 College Student Health Survey of 14 Minnesota colleges and universities, 30.5 percent of students said financial difficulties have affected their academics. Jan Morse, director of the UniversityâÄôs Student Conflict Resolution Center, said sheâÄôs seen students who have tried to work too much or take a lot of classes and things get too hectic. When students are over-committed with work or other responsibilities, it can throw a wrench into their plan if anything goes wrong, she said. Josh Casper, assistant director of the SCRC, said heâÄôs seen problems when work and class schedules overlap or if they donâÄôt have family financial support. âÄúLacking that support already can present challenges for [students], and then having to add on extra work hours to make ends meet can become very difficult,âÄù Casper said. Maria Trafton , a global studies junior, works at Espresso Royale in Dinkytown and at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. Trafton said coming in to college, she didnâÄôt realize how high her living expenses would be. âÄúI didnâÄôt really think IâÄôd have to work as much as I do,âÄù she said. Rex Vogen , the manager of Espresso Royale, said heâÄôs seen his employees ask for more hours than they can handle to make extra money, but become over-stressed in the process. Mena said working extra hours takes away from the college experience. âÄúA lot of the benefits of going to a four-year university arenâÄôt exactly the degrees youâÄôre getting, but the connections youâÄôre making,âÄù he said. âÄúGoing out and meeting people, joining student groups, forming a network for later on in life when youâÄôre trying to find a job.âÄù Dustin Norman , a student representative to the Board of Regents, said students need to have a new mode of intervention to gain more financial understanding. Norman said he plans to discuss the possibility of starting a class for incoming freshman that could help them avert high amounts of debt. He said heâÄôd like freshmen to understand what it means to be a personal banker, how to hold themselves accountable when in debt and how to save for unexpected things. Norman discussed the possibility of making it part of a liberal education requirement, he said, but that may defeat the purpose. âÄúIf we make a class that they have to take once theyâÄôre in the University, we want them to have financial literacy, but weâÄôre forcing them to pay for a class,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs almost an oxymoron.âÄù But, Mena said he thinks the class would be useful. According to the 2008 College Student Health Survey Report of the University of Minnesota , students who carry a monthly balance on their credit cards have a lower mean GPA than those who pay them off in full. While working can cause stress and a lack of sleep, One StopâÄôs Assistant to the Director Carrie Otto said some work experience benefits students. If students work 15 or fewer hours per week, it might help their grades because they learn time management skills and stay busier with more structured activities. Trafton said having less time on her hands has helped academically. âÄúI donâÄôt have a ton of free time, so I get my homework done when I need to,âÄù she said. âÄúI donâÄôt procrastinate about it.âÄù