Seventeen states will be raising their minimum wages in 2012, but Georgia will not be among them.
The state's minimum wage remains $5.15 an hour — significantly below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
But according to the U.S. and Georgia Department of Labor websites, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies to all states except those that have already set higher rates.
Still, the minimum wage is not enough for some University students to pay all of their bills.
Claire Collin a junior finance, international business and French major from Hoschton is working two jobs throughout the school year just so she can pay all of her expenses.
Collin works at Hollister and Chango’s Noodle House — formerly Doc Chey's — in downtown Athens. She has been working at the restaurant since September.
“If I save, I have enough money to pay for utilities, rent and food. But usually I don’t have enough money. Right now, I have loans,” Collin said.
Gabby Bolton, a freshman psychology major from Alpharetta, also works for minimum wage.
She is employed by Sweet Peppers and Old Navy, where she has worked for a year.
“I had to take out a loan for the spring semester because I didn’t have enough money,” Bolton said.
Some occupations, such as jobs on small farms and in the service industry, are exempt from minimum wage. As Collin confirmed, waiters and waitresses can make as low as $2.13 an hour, as they are expected to make up the difference in tips.
Still, with more cuts pending to the HOPE Scholarship, rising tuition costs and a sustained economic downturn, many University students are having trouble paying for school. Bolton said that she had to take on another job in Athens to cover her many basic expenses.
“I pay all of my college tuition, my books, my living expenses and my groceries. I also have to pay for doctor visits," Bolton said. "I had to take out the loan because I needed an extra $4,000 for this semester.”
If the state decided to raise their minimum wage over the national requirement, Collin said it would help her out a lot, but there are no publicized proposals for the minimum wage in Georgia to be increased.
“I guess people think that [workers] can survive on [the minimum wage] right now,” Collin said.