OPINION: The cost of living is unrealistic for college students


Audrey Trevarthan

The current minimum wage in Ohio is $10.10/hour.

Audrey Trevarthan, Opinion Writer

The cost of living refers to the amount of money required to support one’s necessities, such as housing, food, clothing, transportation and insurance. For a college student who is responsible for their own fees, those expenses are stressed by tuition and limited time. When inflation is taken into consideration, is it possible for college students to keep up with the cost of living?

The current minimum wage in Ohio is $10.10/hour. If someone were to work full-time, 40 hours per week, they could make around $1,600 a month. The average rent cost in Kent, Ohio is $1,267.

The average college student spends 16.5 hours working and 9.7 hours studying per week. As a student, it can be extremely difficult to keep up with a job and school. Student loans and financial aid can take some stress off, but how are students supposed to prioritize their education and figure out how to succeed after graduation if they’re trying to figure out how to cover their expenses?

It’s not common that a full-time student would be able to work a job at full-time hours. Most students take around four to six classes a semester. Those classes and workloads can vary. However, I typically have a minimum of two assignments to work on at night, which take anywhere from thirty minutes to hours. To me, it doesn’t seem likely for someone that has classes for around four hours, and a few hours of homework, to be able to hold a full-time job. That also doesn’t include extracurriculars students participate in to build their resumes.

In terms of a solution, the most common suggestion typically leads to the 50/30/20 rule. This rule is a type of budgeting plan with the goal of managing the cost of living while saving 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings. However, this solution only works for those whose needs and wants fit into that 80%. For someone who is able to work full-time and hold a consistent job, this could be a great solution to any budgeting problems. However, for those living on their own and in school, there might not be enough money to allocate toward each margin.

While focusing on school and work, it’s also really important for students to have free time. It can be exhausting to go from class to class and then straight to homework. Time to rest would only increase productivity in schoolwork. Time to hang out with friends is important for a student’s mental health.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a simple solution that leaves students time for rest with the cost of living. The problem is deep-rooted. Do we have someone to blame here? I think there should be more resources to help college students. I think that this could include a budgeting help resource, or even go as far as more student jobs, with an increase in wages. On-campus jobs can be convenient for students, allowing them to work more hours because of the close proximity. However, with the amount students pay to attend college, on-campus jobs could definitely increase their wages, which would help students. Overall, the cost of living is unrealistic for college students. It puts a lot of pressure on students, which can make it hard to focus on their education.

Audrey Trevarthan is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].