A living wage for student success

Minneapolis needs a living wage. Each year thousands of students graduate from Southwest, Washburn, Edison and all the Minneapolis schools. Each year many of those students reach for their future and head to college. Some come from families fortunate enough to not need loans; most do not.

As difficult as navigating the challenges of finding and attending college, it is even more difficult to navigate scholarships, student loan offices, and high interest rates. This difficulty is real. Minnesota students have some of the highest levels of student loan debt in the nation. Students are working two orthree jobs to try to pay for their brighter future.

As kids we were told the stories of our parents or their peers working their way through college. We see them as role models and strive for success in the same way.

The world is no longer the same. In 1980 the minimum wage was $3.10. In 1980 tuition at the University of Minnesota was $927. Working about 10 hours a week during the school year a student could earn enough money to pay for tuition*. This year’s tuition is $12,090. With the minimum wage bumped to $9.50 it would take a student 42 hours a week during the school year to pay for tuition. It is no wonder that student debt is piling up.

Raising the wage to $15 helps return into the realm of the possible the dream of working for a better education. At $15 an hour it would take a student 27 hours a week to pay for tuition; still a stretch, but possible. Declines in real wages and higher tuition costs have squeezed the Minnesota Miracle.

It’s time to give families and students a raise. Won’t you support our students’ futures?

(* The math used to calculate the weekly hours. $927/($3.10* 30 school weeks)=10 hours a week. $12,090/(9.50*30 school weeks)= 42 hours a week.$1,090/($15* 30 school weeks) = 27 hours a week.)

Elliot Altbaum