The Issue of Paying to Take an Internship

Students spend a lot of money to attend college and get a higher education, all to better their chances fighting in the job market. Education, something that has been pushed to students as necessary since middle school, has consequences. FAFSA serves over 13 million students with financial aid and many students leave college with student loan debt to pay off for a large majority of the rest of their life.

Students should not have to pay to work. Some degree programs require students to complete an internship before they graduate. They also require that students take a class to correlate with the internship, giving them more work on top of the job they have. Students have to pay tuition for this class. It’s often a three credit course, which can quickly add up.

At George Mason University, it costs roughly $1,100 for in-state students to take a three credit class and $4,000 for out of state students. Students pay to learn and get their education through these courses.

The class itself isn’t educating the students. The internship is the learning experience, therefore why have students pay for something that isn’t necessarily educating them? The internship is separate from the school. Unless the school is providing the internships for the students (which they are not; students are expected to search for and find their own internships), why have students pay for the class?

A lot of internships, even though they’re basically jobs, don’t pay their interns. The students who end up in these internships take the class end up with no compensation for it and a bill for their experience, all because they need it to graduate. A lot of people recommend only accepting internships that pay, but that’s not possible for all students due to circumstances such as schedules and acceptance.

If schools are going to require students to get an internship and take a class for it, that class should be offered as a 0 or 1 credit class. It’s unfair to make students pay the school for a job that can be stressful or take a lot of time from their schedule for a single class.