University of Arizona junior Casanndra Romero hopes to work with children as a speech pathologist one day.
But these days, Romero finds herself spending more time working in the UA bookstore than she does in the classroom.
The 20-year-old full-time student says the $8-an-hour job helps her cover the cost of tuition. It also helps, she says, that she gets a discount on her books.
"It's stressful," she says, "but if I wasn't working I'd likely have to take out more in student loans, and I don't want to do that."
About 56 percent of students work to pay for college, says an Arizona Students' Association survey of 4,200 students.
Among working students, 40 percent work more than 20 hours a week, the survey shows.
Romero acknowledges that her job takes away time she could use to study.
"It's really tough," she said. "I have learned to prioritize everything - like I have to get my homework done right away because I may not have time later."
She thinks about what life might be like if she didn't have to work - saying she'd have more time to focus on her schoolwork and even some free time for herself.
And as tuition increased, so did her hours - to 30. When Romero started working at the bookstore her freshman year, she was scheduled for 20 hours a week.
Though she's considered seeking out a higher-paying job, Romero has been reluctant to do so because of the flexibility of working on campus.
Even before any tuition increase that may be coming, it's getting harder for students to work their way through college at the UA. Five years ago, a student needed to work full time at a minimum-wage job for 22 weeks to pay the tuition bill. This school year they have to work for 30 weeks to pay the bill.
"It's stressful, but if I wasn't working I'd likely have to take out more in student loans, and I don't want to do that."
Casanndra Romero, University of Arizona junior
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at email@example.com or 573-4175.