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Career Pathing cuts college costs for student workers

College costs keep going up, and many prospective students and their families wonder how they can afford to complete an undergraduate degree without taking out student loans that can leave new graduates tens of thousands dollars in debt.

Northwest Missouri State University is helping hundreds of students solve the college affordability dilemma through its innovative Career Pathing Program, which allows undergraduates working on campus to climb a five-step pay and promotions ladder that significantly reduces out-of-pocket costs.

Participation means students must attend at least three of eight career workshops offered each semester and earn positive evaluations from supervisors.

Those who do so earn any where from $6.50 to $7.85 an hour as level-one workers and receive a 25-cent-per-hour raise with each promotion. Students who attain the top level -- student trainer -- get a 50-cent-per-hour increase and can earn an hourly wage as high as $9.10.

At current rates, students attending Northwest without scholarships, grants or other financial aid will spend about $58,000 over the four years it takes to earn an undergraduate degree.

But an on-campus student employee who takes full advantage of Career Pathing and works full-time during the summer and semester breaks can earn more than $40,000 during those same four years, for an out-of-pocket total, including tuition, fees, room and board, of only about $18,000.*

Those students who decline to participate in the promotion and wage-increase program but retain their minimum-wage campus jobs can still -- counting full-time summer employment -- take home about $30,000*.

"Northwest is committed to providing a wide range of on-campus employment opportunities that allow our students to complete their degrees with a minimum of debt," said Student Employment Coordinator Paula McLain.

"Many of these jobs require a high level of responsibility and help prepare students for successful careers," McLain said, adding that "on-campus employment also offers the limited hours and flexibility needed for students to excel academically."

Currently more than 1,100 Northwest students -- or approximately 20 percent of the undergraduate student body -- hold part-time jobs on campus.

*These figures are based on an analysis of a hypothetical student employee who begins work on the first day of classes and remains an employee of the University for four years. It is assumed that the employee works every day except holidays (based on two weeks) and takes six hours of summer courses within one block, which allows for 40 hours of work each week through the remainder of the summer. It is further assumed that the student works 40 hours a week during spring break and between sessions.

Anyone seeking more information about the Career Pathing Program at Northwest can contact Paula McLain at 660.562.1140 or

Northwest's Career Pathing Program Web site is located at