Your College Professor Could Be on Public Assistance

FromĀ NBC News:

e professor at the head of your college classroom may be on food stamps.

In search of cuts to their bottom line, American colleges and universities are using part time instructors to teach classes that a generation ago would have been the responsibility of tenured professors.

Paid as little as a couple of thousand dollars for each semester-long course, hundreds of thousands of people with doctorates or multiple master's degrees are earning near-poverty wages working as adjunct professors. And as a result, one in four families of part-time college faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program, like food stamps, Medicaid or the Earned Income Tax Credit, according to calculations of Census data by researchers at University of California, Berkeley's Labor Center.

"We're seeing a second class status of professors emerging," says Carol Zabin, Director of Research at the Berkeley Center. "More broadly, professional occupations have increased contingency and low pay."

Berkeley also found:

  • 1 in 5 families of part-time faculty receive Earned Income Tax Credit payments.
  • 7 percent of families of part-time faculty members receive food stamp benefits.
  • 7 percent of adjuncts and 6 percent of their children receive Medicaid.
  • Families of close to 100,000 part-time faculty members are enrolled in public assistance programs.

All of this amounts to a not-insignificant public cost, the Berkeley researchers found:

  • The taxpayer cost of public assistance for families of part-time faculty is nearly half a billion dollars per year ($468 million).
  • More than half of these costs, or an average of $274 million per year, is spent on Medicaid.

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