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Georgians can still work their way through college (if they live at home)

College tuition is rising in Georgia, as it has been nationally, for a variety of reasons.

Median family income in the state has simultaneously declined, giving rise to an interesting juxtoposition: Just how many hours would someone have had to work, at minimum wage, to afford their four-year public college degree — in, say, 1965, 1975 or 1985?

The AJC has the answer, and the data points help illustrate some complex political and economic forces, all working at once: wage stagnation, the decrease in state funding for education, the rise in student populations and the rise in tuition.

They are presented below, and in accompanying chart form.

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How many hours someoen would have to work at minimum wage to pay for a four-year degree at a public college, living on campus and paying for a meal plan

• In 1965: 16 hours/week

• In 1975: 17 hours/week

• In 1985: 23 hours/week

• In 1995: 32 hours/week

(2004 is the tipping point, where the hours worked cross the full-time threshold from 40 hours/week, in 2003, to 43 hours/week.)

• In 2005: 46 hours/week

• In 2012 (the most recently available data): 47 hours/week

How many hours someone would have to work at minimum wage to pay for a four-year degree at a public college, living at home and not paying for a meal plan

• In 1965: five hours/week

• In 1975: five hours/week

• In 1985: eight hours/week

• In 1995: 13 hours/week

• In 2005: 20 hours/week

• In 2012 (most recently available data): 22 hours/week

Data courtesy of Economic Research Division, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (for minimum wages) and US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (for college expenses). Analysis by Fred Broschart.

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