Expected Student Contribution

Working over the summer and during the academic year is a great way for students to contribute to the cost of their education and learn necessary skills for post-graduation employment.

The expected student contribution comprises the student’s summer and school year earnings expectations. Bowdoin’s standard summer work expectation is $2,300, and the standard school year expectation is $2,200. In total, students are generally expected to earn $4,500 to put toward educational expenses. Please note that much of the expected student contribution is intended to pay for the student’s indirect expenses, which may include books, travel, and personal expenses. In most cases, a small part of the expected student contribution is likely to go toward the student’s semester bills from Bowdoin.

While the College recommends these levels for summer and school year work, each student may determine the best way to meet their expected contribution.

How On-Campus Employment Works

The campus job or work-study expectation that every aid recipient is awarded is not applied to the billing statement as a credit in the same way that a scholarship or loan is applied. Students are paid bi-weekly if they decide to work on campus. Their earnings are directly deposited into the bank account they choose, and it is up to them to save or spend those earnings responsibly. Most students spend their earnings on personal expenses as they arise, or save them to pay for transportation, next semester's books, or part of the next billing statement.

Some students will meet or exceed these by working and saving the recommended amounts, while others may cover all or part of their expected contribution using various combinations of resources. Some alternative options include the following:

  • Many students apply for and receive outside scholarships, which may reduce or replace their expected contribution.
  • Students who choose to work more in the summer than during the school year can shift all or part of their school year earning expectation to the summer.
  • Students who would prefer to work more during the school year may decide to shift some of their summer responsibility to the academic year. However, we do not recommended that students work more than 10-12 hours per week during the school year, and students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week on campus while classes are in session. The Office of Student Employment is a great resource to assist students in finding on-campus employment opportunities.
  • While we do not recommend borrowing unless necessary, some students may decide to borrow a loan to cover all or part of their expected student contribution and/or parent contribution. 
  • Parents or extended family members may decide to cover all or part of the expected student contribution so the student does not have to work or may work less during the summer or school year.

In short, it’s up to each family to determine the best way to cover the expected student contribution. Regardless of your decision, your scholarship amount is not impacted. Feel free to contact the Student Aid Office to discuss which option(s) is best for your family as you think about managing your family’s share of your college costs.

Would you like assistance with saving and spending your earnings wisely? Review our Dollars and Sense publication or email the Office of Student Aid and request a meeting with your student aid counselor to discuss budgeting.
In most cases, the parent contribution will cover indirect expenses such as books, personal expenses, housing, meals, or travel (as applicable). However, students who receive more financial aid than the total direct costs will have some financial aid available to pay for indirect expenses. Those students may reach out to the bursar's office to request a refund of excess funds.