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A report from the ACT Center for Equity in Learning finds that working more than 15 hours per week can be detrimental to the academic success of college students.
That conclusion came from a study of first-time freshman tracked over six years in the National Center for Education Statistics' most recently completed survey of college students' educational and early career experiences.
The students who work more than 15 hours per week also tend to be from underserved backgrounds, the report says, and consequently are less academically prepared than their peers. So, obstacles posed by busy work schedules can further set back students already behind.
Those disparities are further reflected in the types of institutions attended by student workers -- they are less likely to have attended selective institutions that have more resources to support student success.
The report found that those who worked intensive hours were less likely to have graduated than their peers, even when compared to other low-income students. However, among low-income students, those who worked had less student loan debt than their peers.
Policy changes to make college more affordable, expand financial aid, and boost wages for hourly workers could lead students to work fewer hours, the report says.