Despite substantial financial aid many students say they will never be able to keep up with the myriad costs of college life — as University of Pennsylvania students told The Daily Pennsylvanian for a recent feature on how students spend money
The student newspaper spoke to a range of students with financial concerns, including some who receive a large amount of aid from the university and some who are just budget conscious. “For most of these students, who generally did not come from cultures of wealth and privilege, arriving at Penn was a culture shock,” according to The DP.
One student spoke candidly about how money has impacted her daily life on campus.
“I try to work 15 hours a week, which is 15 hours I’m not doing homework, or sleeping or whatever. I have to compete with people who have the luxury of not having to do that. It changes the way you see earning money,” she said.
Many students told The DP that most of their monetary decisions involve aspects of campus life that other students don’t have to think about — like living in an on-campus dorm or joining Penn’s popular Greek system. They said they often need to strategize and budget in order to maintain a “normal” undergraduate experience:
“The kids in my frat go downtown every single week,” Daniel says. “When you go downtown, it’s $US10 for cab, $US10 back…every time you go downtown it’s at least $US100. I’m not really into that whole scene.” On the occasions he does go, he drinks beforehand to avoid spending money on expensive drinks and bottle service. “You are able to do things wealthy people do, you just have to find a way to do it cheaply.” But spring break — an institution in his house — complicated that. Finding the money for a $US1,500 trip, he says, required planning nearly a year in advance. “I told my parents, don’t get me anything for Christmas, no birthday presents.”
Another student told The DP that she actively avoids going out for dinner with friends because she has prioritised spending her money elsewhere, such as towards her sorority dues and other Greek expenses. “Thus far this year, God, with big — little week it’s over $US1,000 that I’ve spent on a sorority … It goes to show you that it’s not like I don’t have the means to do that, because if I truly was struggling in any way, I’d cut it out,” she said.
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