I Work at Burger King and Can't Afford Community College. Now What?

April 15th 2015

Samuel Homer Williams, age 21, has been working at Burger King for about three years. He is one of thousands of workers on strike today fighting for a $15 dollar wage and the right to form a union.

"I didn't expect having to drop out of college to pay for tuition," he said, "because I am out-of-state and I didn't get all of the financial aid I thought I was going to get." 

Like millions of young Americans who are priced out of college, Samuel (who goes by his middle-name Homer) was forced to drop out of school and find a job.

"I've been back in and out of Southwest College three times now and I kind of need that stability to stay in school."


It hasn't always been this way. In 1978, a minimum wage worker could earn a full year's college tuition by working for a summer (about 14 weeks). Today, it takes a year of working full-time to afford a year of tuition.


A year's tuition at an in-state public university in 1978 was $688 (in that year's dollars, not adjusted for inflation), which is equal to 260 hours working at the 1978 minimum wage (less than seven 40-hour work weeks).

A year's tuition at an in-state public university in 2011 was $7,701, which is equal to 1,062 hours working at the 2011 minimum wage (nearly twenty-seven 40-hour work weeks). This doesn't even factor in the cost of textbooks or room and board. 

It's not just fast food workers who needs this," says Homer. "It's home care workers, and it's child care workers, and it's poor truck drivers and it's airport workers... We all need this. We all need this 15 dollars..." 

You can petition to raise the minimum wage by clicking here