Students cope with higher living expenses

Private loans are an option for students to solve their financial problems.

Ryan Dionne

As the cost of living continues to increase, students are finding many ways to pay the bills.

For many University students, paying expenses involves having Mom or Dad write a check to front the costs.

Students, such as sophomore Rachel Steckelberg and junior Carly Neubauer, said they pay food or utilities while their parents pay the rent.

Steckelberg lives in Argyle House, which costs her parents between $378 and $400 per month, but she also works approximately eight hours per week to pay for food.

Most of Steckelberg’s friends help their parents pay for housing if they can, she said.

Despite the number of parents who pay for their children’s housing, family support has stayed the same or increased slightly, said M.E.G. Schmidtbauer, loan unit manager in the Office of Student Finance.

Trevor Van Schyndel, a first-year sports studies student, said, “The majority of people I know are definitely helped out by their parents.”

He said he pays for housing with a combination of three loans, one scholarship and working between 10 and 12 hours per week.

Kim Miller, a nursing sophomore, has a similar situation.

Miller said she works approximately 25 hours per week at two jobs and has financial aid and additional loans to pay for expenses.

Private loans are quickly becoming more popular for students with financial need, Schmidtbauer said.

“We’ve done $13 million in private loans so far this year already,” she said

The maximum amount of money students can receive for federal loans has not increased since former President George H.W. Bush was in office, Schmidtbauer said.

“The federal and institutional money is just not there,” she said.

Unlike federal loan recipients, those who receive private loans can usually borrow an unlimited amount of money.

As long as a student has good credit or a co-signer, private loans are often the solution to financial hardships, Schmidtbauer said.

The number of private loans has basically doubled every year for the last three years, she said.

Every year, the University determines the amount of financial aid graduate and undergraduate students should get by calculating the cost of attending the institution.

Tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, transportation and miscellaneous expenses are all factored into the final estimation.

This year, the University has calculated the average cost of rent in the campus area at $549 per month for undergraduate housing and $748 per month for graduate housing.

The undergraduate housing cost reflects the average price of similar one- or two-bedroom apartments in 16 complexes around campus, said Mannix Clark, associate director of University Housing and Residential Life.

The Melrose, Marcy Park Apartments, Chateau and University Village are some of the apartments the University looks at to calculate the average.

Three years ago, the University said, the average monthly cost of undergraduate housing was $500, which is approximately 10 percent less than now.

With inflation, the current price should only be $520.

Comparatively, the average cost of an apartment in the metro area for one adult is estimated to be $713, according to the Jobs Now Coalition Web site.

The coalition collects data on the cost of living in Minnesota.

Within the last two years, inflation has not played a huge role in the cost of housing, said Kevin Ristau, the education director for the Jobs Now Coalition.

“There was a lot more inflation in housing cost in the first couple years of the decade,” Ristau said.