Pay for College

Explore college costs and plan how you'll pay for your degree or certificate.

Work More or Borrow for College?

Use this calculator to compare working versus borrowing for college

Maybe you're thinking about working while in school to pay for your education. You could save yourself some debt later on, though you might be quite busy while earning your degree or certificate. Before you go down this road, consider your options. Studies show that students who work while in college tend to graduate later or not at all. In other words, the stress of working a job and going to school is a recipe for burn-out. Here's a tool to help you compare whether working more is worth it in the long run.

How to use

  1. Enter the following into the calculator:
    • Your hourly rate of pay in the wage field in each case
    • Hours you expect to work under each case
    • Amount of student loans you expect to borrow in each case
    • Your expected first-year annual income after graduation (only for "Work less, borrow more" scenario)
  2. Select "Calculate."**
Work more, borrow less Work less, borrow more
Hourly rate $ $
Hours worked per week
Student loans borrowed per year $ $
First-year income*   $

*Need help estimating first-year income? Use AIE's Career Choices tool.

**An important consideration in this calculation is how much you expect to make once you complete your degree. For most students, the less you make now compared to after graduation, the more likely it will be to your advantage to borrow and finish sooner. If you would have to borrow a great deal more and you do not expect to earn significantly more once you graduate, or you already make a relatively high wage, borrowing is less likely to be an advantage. For purposes of comparison, the second scenario assumes you will pay off the full cost of extra borrowing in the first year after graduation to approximate the difference in total costs. In most cases, you will spend loan repayment costs over several years.



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