Could a minimum-wage earner in 1978 earn enough in a summer to pay a full year’s tuition? | PolitiFact

Everything was better in the old days, apparently — including the chore of paying for college, at least according to a social media meme sent to us recently by a reader.

The meme — created by OurTime.org, an advocacy group for young Americans — said, “In 1978, a student who worked a minimum-wage summer job could afford to pay a year’s full tuition at the 4-year public university of their choice.”

Really? We figured this was worth a look.

First, the minimum wage. Starting on Jan. 1, 1978, the minimum wage was $2.65. Someone working at the minimum wage for 13 weeks, and 40 hours per week, in the summer of 1978 would have ended up with $1,378 for their labors.

For the tuition they would have faced in the 1978-79 school year, we turned to figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, the federal government’s repository of education data.

The cost of tuition and fees (in that year’s dollars, not adjusted for inflation) was $688 for in-state residents attending a four-year, public university.

via Could a minimum-wage earner in 1978 earn enough in a summer to pay a full year’s tuition? | PolitiFact.

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