By Gretchen Kalhust
No one enjoys spending money to fill up their gas tank, especially when prices are high and funds are low. The U. S. Department of Energy reports that Americans pay about $3.10 per gallon for gasoline and analysts warn prices could go up to $5 per gallon. “If prices go that high I would have to consider taking more of my classes online next semester to offset the cost of commuting,” said Sue Stacks, 51, a business administration major at The University of Memphis.
Stacks is not the only student at The University of Memphis worrying about the high cost of commuting. Tough economic times make budgeting difficult. Students already worried about finances are beginning to thinking about fluctuating gas prices and the affects on their finances.
Thomas Rainwater, 21, a U of M broadcast journalism student, moved to an apartment closer to campus to help offset his expenses.
“When I lived off-campus in Germantown, I had to drive 30 minutes to school and 30 minutes back everyday. It was terrible.”
Rainwater, who also works as a pizza delivery driver, said, “My gas usage is absolutely ridiculous. If gas prices rise to $4, I’ll seriously have to consider getting a new job.”
Students can reduce the amount of gas they are using and in turn the amount they are paying for gas by carpooling. Carpooling allows students who live near one another to share a ride to campus while they share the cost of gasoline. University of Memphis students, faculty, and staff have access to a free, self-service carpool database through the university’s MyMemphis website. On this website, drivers can view current carpool lists or start a new carpool.
Rainwater and Stacks agree that cutting back on other expenses has helped ease the burden of paying more for gas.
“I burn a ton of gas driving at work so I have to limit my spending on eating out, groceries, and things like that,” said Rainwater.
Stacks admitted that she also reduced the size of her budget.
“I’ve had to cut back on a lot of my expenses, like going out to eat and shopping,” she said. Stacks commutes from her home in Oakland, Tenn. to campus at the U of M, a drive of about 50 minutes, to attend classes three times a week.
Riding the bus also helps reduce fuel costs for students. The fare for 31-day pass on the Memphis Area Transit Authority system costs $50. The average driver, driving 12,000 miles a year, averaging 22.5 miles per gallon and paying $3.10 per gallon for gasoline will pay a little more than $1,653 per year for fuel. That means in a typical month drivers pay about $138 for fuel; purchasing a monthly bus pass would save drivers more than $85.
Robyn Winston, 39, a University of Memphis nursing student said that she did not understand why gas prices were so high.
“These prices don’t make any sense to me. One day they’re down and the next day they’re up.”
Winston, who commutes to Memphis three times a week from Jackson, Tenn., a round-trip drive of about three hours, is not alone in her confusion.
Understanding how analysts predict future gas prices can be complicated because these calculations rely on a lot of complex factors. Michael Sanibel recently explained in his posting Signs That Gas Prices Are Going Up at SFGate.com that, for the most part, the price of gas rises and falls because of supply and demand.
“The supply and demand for all of these [petroleum-based] products will impact the price of gas,” writes Sanibel.
The United States relies mostly on foreign countries to supply it with crude oil because it produces only one-third of its own oil. If a problem happens that slows down the production or export of oil, like protests in Egypt or fighting in Iraq, the cost of crude oil will rise. Problems also happen when not enough oil is supplied to meet the demand of high-consumption countries like the United States, China, and India. Supply and demand play a large role in shaping the costs of fuel.
• The average cost of gasoline has gone up over $1.20 per gallon since 2009.
• An average driver uses about 533 gallons of gas a year. If gas prices remain unchanged, in one year a driver will spend more than $1,600 for fuel.
• View current gas prices in your neighborhood at GasBuddy.com.
• More information can be found on gasoline use and pricing trends on the U. S. Department of Energy’s website.
• To access The University of Memphis carpool database, log in to MyMemphis with your university user name and password. The “Carpool Information” channel is in the right hand column on the home tab.
December 7, 2010
by Gretchen Kalhust
According to the website for the University of Memphis’ Office of Institutional Research, 42 percent of the school’s enrolled students are non-traditional students. What makes a student a non-traditional student? A non-traditional student is anyone enrolled full- or part-time who is age 25 or older. Some non-traditional students have difficulties finding a balance between being a parent, working full-time, and dealing with marriage and supporting a family while attending classes. The Adult and Commuter Student Services office provides resources to these non-traditional students. “We help adults adjust to life as a student,” said Heather Hampton, office coordinator.
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November 18, 2010
by Gretchen Kalhust
Lisa Parr settled into an oversized chair at Barnes and Noble and a nearby display of books about the University of Arkansas’ football program immediately caught her attention. She leaned over and picked up a book.
“I think my first word was hog,” she said.
As she set the book aside, Parr began to tell me about the pressures of being a woman in male dominated field, about how she felt like she was meant to be an industrial engineer, and the lessons she has learned on the job.
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