College students were already suffering before recent price mark-ups

Written By Erin Yudt, For The Globe

On Friday, Oct. 22, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that Americans should be prepared for the global supply chain to remain in crisis through 2022 and inflation pressures “are likely to last longer than previously expected,” according to CNN. This is not something that college students want to hear after the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) reported that prices rose 5.4% in the past year and 0.4% in September alone, with groceries taking the biggest hit as they were 1.2% more expensive in September than in August, according to Forbes. College students are struggling enough already. Maybe we truly will live the “broke” college life now.

As a freshman coming from a super small town moving to a big city for college, I have experienced a lot of culture shock. The biggest money spender around me back home was the one Dairy Queen that cost me no more than $5 which I would hardly go to as I hardly had the time or the friends to go with, but being here has caused a complete 180 for me. I have always found myself to be relatively good at managing money and watching how much I spend, but being surrounded by countless amazing places to eat and shop at has caused me to be a little less frugal, especially when the dining hall and cafe have been barely edible at times and poorly accessible with changing hours and limited supplies. This is not entirely anyone’s fault as every company is still struggling with finding workers and staying open, but I truly did expect more when coming here. I thought that students’ health and wellbeing would be of the utmost importance, especially because of the price that we are paying for tuition and food.

I also expected that prices for items would not be that much different, as my hometown is only about an hour and 15minutes away from Pittsburgh. However, I think prices would have been closer if it were not for the current, seemingly unending inflation rates. I was very fortunate to work a job over the summer that paid over minimum wage and gave me a lot of hours, so I came into college with some good spending money. However, a large part of my savings are gone now, as I cannot stomach the dining hall or cafe most days and have to replenish necessary items like every other student. Additionally, it does not help that transportation fares add up. The campus shuttle seems to run at the most inconvenient times for me and is not always reliable. Sometimes the drivers forget to pick up students or show up much later than expected, so my friends and I tend to take public transit, but that can also be unreliable. Sometimes, Uber is the only option.

I also expected to have time for a job and that teachers would be a bit easier on students, as we are still transitioning back into in-person classes, but this has not been the case in my experience. My school work practically consumes all my time after classes, and I barely have time for the two clubs I have joined. I am still trying to balance work, activities and life, and inflation has not helped.. As a result, I am becoming much more concerned if I am going to be able to afford to go to school in the city.

College students should not have to endure these conditions. The amount of stress we endure daily from classes to activities to everyday bumps in the road, all on top of living in a pandemic is mentally, physically and financially exhausting. The worries of having money to afford college are enough as is. When will college students get a break? When will enough be enough?