Last summer, when I was offered a social media internship with the Orleans Firebirds from the Cape Cod Baseball League in Massachusetts, I was thrilled. Being offered to intern for a team with a rich history alongside some of the top baseball communicators in the country was a high honor. Shortly after, I learned I would not be able to afford to pay for my internship credit and rent an apartment for an unpaid summer internship, so I was forced to decline the offer.
For many majors at Temple University, like public relations, marketing and sport and recreation management among others, students are required to have at least one internship for course credit. They can take an internship during the fall or spring semesters, but some prefer a summer internship because they may have more flexibility in their schedule and location.
However, students enrolled in a summer internship are required to pay tuition to earn internship credit. Pennsylvania residents pay more than $2,300 in tuition, plus an approximate $106 university fee simply for a three-credit summer internship course, while out-of-state residents and international students could be charged more than $4,000, depending on the program, according to Temple’s Bursar’s Office.
Temple must get rid of the substantial tuition charge to count a summer internship as class credit. Some students already sacrifice thousands of dollars to take an unpaid internship, and they shouldn’t need to pay the university to work.
“If I didn’t pay for the summer class to do my internship, I wouldn’t graduate on time,” said Julia McCarthy, a junior public relations major, who has a virtual internship this summer with UpSpring PR, a public relations agency based in New York City.
Eliminating the tuition cost for a summer internship would give students more financial freedom to take unpaid internships to fulfill their curriculum requirements.
While some internships are paid, most do not pay enough to offset the cost of tuition. Additionally, most internships do not pay at all, as more than 40 percent of internships in the United States are unpaid, CNBC reported.
Students may feel obligated to choose paid internships to help cover the cost of summer tuition, which limits options and could lead them to turn down positions they may have wanted.
“My internship is paid,” McCarthy said. “I mean, obviously not enough money to pay off the summer class, but I am getting $15 an hour.”
Some students can only take paid summer internships because they are responsible for paying for their housing, tuition and other everyday expenses. These students cannot afford to take an unpaid internship, let alone pay tuition for a summer course just to count the internship for credit.
“I’ve only done paid internships because I pay for college myself, so I am unable to afford to take an unpaid internship,” said Abby Skelton, a sophomore psychology major. “To take time off work to do something I’m not getting paid for is just not possible for me.”
When public relations students apply for an internship for credit, they must get the internship approved by their coordinator by sending a job description and a letter from the employer. Once given approval, the student will be enrolled in a class to earn credit.
However, the university should follow Temple’s winter tuition model for summer internship tuition rates.
The winter credits count toward the spring semester’s tuition bill, meaning students aren’t forced to pay extra money per credit hour. Students would need to ensure they are taking more than 12 credits and less than 18 total, including the summer internship, to be considered full-time students.
“Students are not paying for the internship per se, they are paying as they are registered and seeking to earn credits,” wrote Deirdre Childress Hopkins, Temple’s senior director of communications, in an email to The Temple News. “For some students, the for-credit internship is attractive for progress toward their degree as well as resume value.”
Temple tries to assist students who decide to accept an unpaid position by offering a $2,000 unpaid internship stipend to 20 undergraduate students, regardless of school or major. However, this process is very selective and the stipend isn’t enough to cover the tuition cost of a three-credit summer internship course.
In the first two years of the summer unpaid internship stipend, Temple awarded 25 students each time, and this year, 20 students received the stipend funding available and qualified applicants, which is likely to change over time, Hopkins wrote.
Temple also has the College of Liberal Arts Pathways to Professions program and the College of Science and Technology Undergraduate Research Program, which fund students for unpaid summer internships and full-time research completed with university faculty.
However, these are high-demand applications and are never guaranteed to any student needing assistance, Hopkins wrote.
Temple should be able to apply the costs to fall or spring tuition, instead of charging the summer tuition for internships as Temple does not have enough funding available to assist all students in need of financial help.
Skelton chose not to use her summer internship for credit due to the expense of summer courses, she said.
“It would have just ended up costing me money on the internship for credit, even though it’s a paid internship,” Skelton said. “I just think it’s ridiculous.”
Adjusting the tuition price will help all students gain real-world experience without worrying about a price tag. Temple must adjust their summer internship course tuition to help students get the real-world experience they deserve.