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Rising gas prices, students falling behind

April 2, 2011

With an average price of $3.52 per gallon in Towns County, the cost to travel to and from YHC is no longer trivial. We calculated the fuel cost to travel to and from popular campus destinations, as well as nearby commuter towns. Point A is Young Harris College. Point B is Zaxby's in Hiawassee. Point C is the Blairsville Walmart. Point D is Waffle House. Point E is Fieldstone. Point F is ABC in Hayesville.Image courtesy of Google Maps

By Hailey Silvey, Staff Writer

The rising price of gas affects the way most people plan out their day. However, people rarely think of how this rise in gas has affected college students who, in addition to driving to town, may drive to class on a daily basis.

Students who commute to their campus now find it difficult to attend events on campus and even their classes.

Young Harris College has 162 commuter students. Of these commuters, 145 are from Georgia, the other 17 are from North Carolina. Students say that gas prices make it difficult for them to come to class.

Freshman Stephenie Fagin from Hiawassee said, “I skip class about once every two weeks, simply because I just can’t afford the gas to come. I can’t work as many shifts as I need to, due to the work I have for my classes. It’s a really hard cycle that is difficult to overcome.”

Gas prices have gone up eight to 15 cents over the last three weeks in Georgia. In North Carolina, the average gas price has gone up 10 to 25 cents. According to Gasbuddy.com, the average price for a gallon of gas in the city of Young Harris is now $3.52. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics states that the average car gets 22.6 miles per gallon, meaning students’ wallets are feeling the increase in gas prices.

Commuters say that they have felt this rise. The average commuter says that it now costs them anywhere from $10 to $15 more to fill up their gas tanks. Some commuters who drive larger cars and trucks say that gas is now costing them almost $20 more.

Students with jobs are saying that they now have to work many more hours than they used to just to make up for the rise in gas prices.

Calle Wallace, a junior communication major from Hiawassee, works in the business office at YHC and is the social activities board for Campus Activities Board, CAB. Therefore, Wallace is continuously traveling back and forth between her home and campus. Wallace said, “The price of gas makes me angry and depressed. I now spend more money going to and from my job, which brings the money I actually make way down.”

Wallace says that she now fills her car up as many as four times a week.

Most commuters live at home in order to save on tuition. YHC students save as much as $7000 just by living at home. However, commuters feel that gas prices are causing the margin of money that they save to rapidly grow smaller.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for students to carpool,” said Bart Arencibia, a sophomore from Hiawassee. “However, not many students want to carpool. The money that it takes me to get back and forth to campus is ridiculous.”

Arencibia is not the only student that feels this way. Alex Spiegel, an undecided major from the city of Young Harris said, “The main reason I commute to YHC is to save money. The gas prices now make me feel like I’m not saving any money at all.”

Commuters are not the only ones that feel that gas is too expensive. Many residents do not go home as frequently as they used to. Freshman Aaron O’Tuel from Hartwell said, “Economically, it affects how frequently I go home. As a limited income individual, I can’t go home as frequently as I would like to.”

Going home is not the only distance that residents have to drive. As YHC is located in a very rural town, students have to go quite a long way to even go to the grocery store. The closest Wal-Mart to the YHC campus is 11 miles away.

“At least 75 percent of the money I get from my job and my parents goes to  gas,” said Taylor Loveless, a freshman Spanish major from Bremen.  “I go to Wal-mart and the Mexican restaurant a lot, but I only spend around $10-15 a week.  The rest of my money goes to gas.”

College students are affected by the gas prices. If gas continues to rise, commuters may begin to attend classes less, and on-campus students may find they are unable to afford going out. Hopefully, the gas prices will go down so that students can enjoy the benefits of commuting to YHC.

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