Justin: After twelve years of studying, Emily Gibbons earned her high school diploma. But her real work is just beginning. Now she has got a nine-to-five job at $9 an hour at a label company. Then she races home to change her clothes for her 6 to 10 shift at Pizza Hut, making $7.40 an hour.
Emily Gibbons: I just want to sleep. I just want to go home and go to bed.
Justin: But her real wake up call is the cost of the public college she is attending come fall. Since 2000, annual tuition at public universities has doubled.
Emily: We’re not rich around here. We have to help our parents with this. We can’t just not work and expect to get through college and be okay.
Justin: Her university will run about $18,000 dollars a year. She is expecting about $5,000 in financial aid and another $5,000 or so from her summer jobs.
Emily: Right now, I’m trying to get student loans.
Justin: In 1980, a ten-week summer job at minimum wage meant a teen 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%. Guidance Counselor Palmer Toto sees how the pressure is building on his students.
Palmer Toto: For this generation, tuitions are higher and costs are higher. So it’s coming at them from both ends and it’s very difficult.
Emily: After I get out of college, I’m going to have to work to pay for college! That’s about all I’m going to have money for!
Justin: She may be struggling, but Emily says she feels lucky. That is because almost 20% of Americans under 25 are unemployed. And earning that college degree means she will make a lot more money in the long run.