Temple U Paying Students to Work Fewer Hours

"We’re not paying them to go home and play video games. We’re paying them to free them up from this need to earn money."

Temple University students are getting one heck of a deal from a school-sponsored program that pays cash to keep them from spending too much time working off-campus. The program is called Fly in 4 and the goal is two-fold: to graduate more students in four years and save them money.

Inside Higher Ed described the experience of one of the first students to enroll into the program launched last year:

Henry Fountain enrolled at Temple University last year, he was working two jobs: 40 hours per week with his local government during summer break and 23 hours per week as a busboy at a restaurant during the school year. It was an arrangement he had to balance for years while in high school, but a few weeks into his freshman year at Temple, Fountain quit the restaurant job.

And the university gave him $4,000 for doing so.

There is an agreement that goes along with the program that all enrollees must sign. Students must promise, among other things, to meet with an academic adviser once per semester, register for classes that meet their specified academic plan, and complete at least 30 credits each year. Over 90% of Temple's students are currently enrolled.

Temple's president, Neil Theobald, said that to qualify for the "grant," a student can work no more than 15 hours per week off-campus, and for that will receive $2,000 per semester. As an added bonus, if a student meets all the required obligations of the agreement yet still fails to graduate in four years, he or she "will be able to complete the courses required for your degree, free of any tuition and comprehensive fee charges."

There was some pushback from the "old guys and gals who remember working their way through school," Theobald said. But with today's high college costs, things are different, he added:

This was thought of as, "You’re paying kids not to work." And I had to be very clear. We’re not paying them to go home and play video games. We’re paying them to free them up from this need to earn money, so they can reallocate that time to course work and to staying on track to graduate.

Temple is currently boasting that there are 600 more sophomores this year than last that are on track to graduate in four years and if that rate continues, the university claims those students are projected to save $15 million in college costs.