Associated Press: School's out, surf's up, summer beckons. Time for college students to see if they can stay afloat in the worst economy their generation has known.
Young people are carrying a load heavier than they normally bear as they scatter from campuses, judging from an AP-mtvU poll that finds students anxious about their finances, job prospects after graduation and the pressures facing their folks back home.
Josh Donahue, 23, an Oregon State University economics graduate, is living on food stamps. First in his family with a university degree, he stays with relatives and scrapes even for a menial job instead of the bank gig he'd dreamed about.
"A degree in economics," he said, "doesn't really prepare you to understand the economy very well."
To be sure, tight budgets are a rite of passage at college. Ramen noodles build character.
But in a nation that has lost more than 5.7 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, parent and student alike are swept up in the tempest. In the poll of students, nearly one in five reported that at least one parent lost a job in the last year.
Parents usually worry about their kids' finances. Now the kids are worrying about their parents'.
At George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., systems engineering junior Adrian Solomon, 21, of Virginia Beach, Va., said his mother, who is single and raising his 16-year-old sister as well as a foster child, is "trying to support me sometimes, when I need it." At other times she's asked him for money. "I would do what I can to help her out."
Jake Lear, 21, of Warrenton, Va., a digital arts major at George Mason, worked three jobs at a time through the semester and is doing one of them full-time this summer -- a resident adviser helping to look after freshmen in dorms -- because he gets free housing. His parents work for a federal contractor that shrank its work force and eliminated 401(k) matching contributions. The school is in suburban northern Virginia outside Washington.
"I'm pretty much independent as far as school goes," Lear said. "Where they would normally help me out with cash here and there they don't so much any more, just because money's so tight."
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