When people say education is an investment, they really mean it.
Higher education almost certainly raises people's earning potential, but the initial costs are huge. A map from Mic shows just how huge that sacrifice is, especially for working students. They took a look at what percentage of their income a student working a minimum wage job full-time would need to spend in order to attend a public college. The results are depressing.
In the majority of states, it would cost over 50 percent of a minimum wage worker's income to pay for tuition. The student would almost certainly need to take out loans, considering in most parts of the country, a minimum wage salary doesn't cover the cost of living. Effectively, there's no way around loans and the interest that comes with them, even when students opt to work full-time.
This also has obvious implications for how long it takes students to pay back loans. Despite a slowly healing job market, unemployment rates among recent graduates make digging one's way out of debt difficult. Plenty of people with bachelor's and even high degrees work for minimum wage, and these statistics show just how daunting it is to cover those costs.
The figures also underscore the importance of funding public colleges. Many of the states with exceptionally high percentages like New Hampshire (98 percent) and Pennsylvania (88 percent) have exceptionally high state tuition rates. When public universities are prohibitively expensive, the barrier for low-income students is that much higher.
Is your state among the ones where it's hardest for students to work their way through? Check out the toughest ones below.