Paving the Way Through Paid Internships: A Proposal to Expand Educational and Economic Opportunities for Low-Income College Students

Paving the Way Through Paid Internships: A Proposal to Expand Educational and Economic Opportunities for Low-Income College Students

Doing an internship while in college has become a near prerequisite for obtaining a good job.  Yet internships are often out of reach for low-income students because most of them are unpaid. This report outlines the limitations of the current college internship system, and proposes the creation of subsidies for low-income college students to pursue internships at non-profit organizations or government agencies. The strategies include building on the Federal Work-Study Program, having colleges and universities compete for institutional grants to design their own programs and administering grants to low-income interns in federal agencies and Congress. 

Top Facts:

  • A national survey in 2006 found that 84 percent of college students at four-year institutions had completed at least one internship before graduation.
  • The vast majority of non-profit and governmental internships are unpaid.
  • A three month internship in Washington, D.C. conservatively costs about $4,050, excluding travel.
  • Many elite and small liberal arts colleges provide grants for unpaid summer work, this aid is overwhelmingly concentrated at private institutions with greater resources, and it tends to benefit higher-income students who already have greater access to internships.