Many Baby boomers recall young adulthood as a time of scrimping, saving, eating lots of macaroni and cheese, and possibly holding down two part-time jobs to pay for a college education.

Today, students are finding it more and more difficult to keep a job and complete their degrees, and often opt for loans to relieve economic and academic stress.

A 2005 Wall Street Journal article by Robert Tomsho reports that working beyond 15 or 20 hours a week can result in lower grades and higher dropout rates, yet many students work several hours beyond that.

U.S. Census statistics revealed that between 1999-2000, the number of full-time college students who work at least 35 hours per week rose from 13.5 percent to 19.7 percent.

So what’s an aspiring young undergraduate supposed to do? Some students simply take longer to finish their degrees.

Kelli Mushrush, 20, is a second-year college freshman only because she works full-time to pay her rent, utilities and car payment.

“I have a tuition waiver that pays for my school, and my mom helps with my books,” said Mushrush. “Everything else depends is up to me to budget, which is really hard sometimes.”

Mushrush works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and goes to school several nights a week, sometimes until 11 p.m., which leaves little time for studying, much less recreation.

“I don’t care how long it takes me to graduate,” said Mushrush. “It’s only important that I finish.”

While trying to foster independence in their offspring, many parents still worry about their child’s ability to remain financially stable while away at school.

Pam Moore, Southern Plains area manager for Christian Children’s Fund, has a daughter who is a junior at Oklahoma State University. “My [daughter] teaches piano to small children,” said Moore. “The [OSU] music department offers the service to local families as a means to give the student experience and money. It doesn’t pay like a day job, but it does help with the incidentals.”

Although her daughter manages financially, Moore spends a lot of her time holding her breath, hoping nothing breaks.

“We have not yet had to take out a student loan,” said Moore, with fingers firmly crossed. “If the car gives up the ghost, we may have to resort to that.”

A recent report by the Associated Press gave a number of tips on saving money while at school, including making coffee at home, shopping for credit card deals, and scouting university organizations for free “join up” meals.

The first few weeks at Northeastern State University are usually a flurry of get-togethers to meet other students, with fraternities, sororities and campus clubs all rolling out the welcome mat. The AP report suggests gatherings such as these create ready-made meal opportunities for the hungry student - whose tuition is subsidizing lots of that free food.

The NSU campus calendar for September revealed this week as being sorority recruitment week, followed by the fraternity recruitment week, Sept. 11-15. Famished students who may be interested in going Greek might want to check out those options. Many will offer cook-outs and gatherings that are bound to include “munchies.”

As the cost of tuition rises, it seems the cost of textbooks follows suit. When Sen. Charles E. Schumer served on a committee investigating the cost of textbooks, he was alarmed at what he found.

“After they pay tuition, parents and students are getting slapped with shockingly high costs for textbook after textbook, in class after class, at school after school,” wrote Schumer in the senatorial study.

Some people may assume they’re saving a bundle by shopping at an off-campus book store, but other students believe they can get the best deals by shopping online – overseas. Unfortunately, many of these books come in a language other than English, so caveat emptor (buyer beware)!

Freeload Press, www.freeloadpress.com, publishes and distributes premium textbooks in a number of fields. They deliver the books using a combination of commercial support and direct fulfillment, allowing the company to provide the textbook as a free “e-book.”

According to the company Web site, print versions are also available at typically 65 percent less than their on-campus (or slightly off-campus) counterpart. After reviewing the book list available for download, many titles are available in the business and finance disciplines.

Electronic gadgets may baffle parents of college students, what with instant messaging, blackberries, flat-screens, iPods and laptops with wireless “cards,” but to students, they’re essential. Those who plan to have their student appropriately “outfitted” electronically should consider compiling gadgets. For instance, a flat-screen computer monitor can serve as a TV while the computer can serve as a stereo, which, if compatible with an MP3 player, can download music to be taken from place to place.

Those who need employment can check with the campus financial aid office to see what’s available in work-study or institutional jobs. Often this is a much-overlooked resource, as students assume all of the jobs are taken. Internet sites like www.internjobs.com may provide just the right part-time job to suit a college study schedule.

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