Lyndon Johnson is shown with three other faculty members when he taught elementary school in Cotulla, Texas in 1928.
Lyndon Johnson, during his college days, 1928

Next to being born in a log cabin, which doesn’t happen much anymore, one of the best things presidential aspirants can brag about is working their way through college.

Unfortunately, that, too, may be going the way of the knotty-pine birthplace.

The ever-rising cost of a degree has made it all but impossible for even the most ambitious young striver to pay the bill by waiting tables or mopping the floors of Old Main.

Few of the current presidential candidates, no matter how prone to embellishment, can make much of a claim to toiling through their college years. Even incumbent President Barack Obama, hardly a child of wealth, seems to have financed his education at Occidental College and then Columbia University largely with scholarships, student loans, and support from a generous grandmother, according to biographer David Maraniss.

Best college education image

But it wasn’t always so. As recently as Bill Clinton, U.S. presidents have prided themselves on earning their education the hard way. Here’s how seven 20th century presidents put themselves through college and on the path to the White House. We may never see their like again.

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