Survey: School, living costs still a burden

Students continue to make sacrifices and take on debt to cover costs.

Survey: School, living costs still a burden

Roy Aker

Rising education costs and living expenses are putting financial pressure on University of Minnesota students, a trend continued from past years.

To cover costs, some University students are working more, taking out more loans and forgoing experiences like studying abroad, according to the 2013 Student Experience in the Research University survey (SERU).

The survey, which was published last week, polled about 9,700 University undergraduates and found that more than 45 percent of them are working more than 10 hours per week. Among respondents, 6 percent said they’re working more than 30 hours per week, but only 2 percent said they spend that amount of time in class.

Marketing junior Taylor Collins said the cost of attendance was the reason he decided to take summer classes while also working 25 hours per week.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to graduate a semester earlier,” he said, “because I really need to start actually earning money at a job that pays more than $10 an hour.”

The balance between work and school can be difficult.

Jessica Tarnowski, a speech-language-hearing sciences major, said working and going to school at the same time is one of the hardest things she’s ever done.

“My uncle, who went to the [University] in the 1970s, said he could afford tuition and expenses by working part-time on the weekends, which is something that’s almost laughable now,” she said.

Collins said he was originally pursuing a psychology degree, but changed his mind because of the cost of graduate school.

“If I really wanted to pursue psychology, it meant going to graduate school, something I realized was a stretch given the costs,” he said.

To save money, students are also forgoing experiences like studying abroad.

More than 30 percent of University students surveyed said they decided against a study abroad trip to save money, compared to about 28 percent in 2010.

Political science junior Benjamin Williams said even though studying abroad would have helped him complete his foreign language requirement faster, he decided against it.

“In my situation now, [study abroad] is sort of a luxury,” he said.

Nearly 60 percent of students surveyed said they’d cut expenses or been more frugal in the past year, and nearly 65 percent said they’d skipped meals to save money.

Although Williams said the results of the survey shocked him at first, he said he doesn’t think the University is an outlier.

“The sad truth is that this is happening all over the country,” he said, “and students have had to re-strategize their college experience.”