Looking back, high gas prices still a struggle for commuter students

By Alyssa Taliaferro
On April 17, 2012


With rising gas prices and an increase in the cost of tuition, it has become more difficult than ever for college commuter students who are constantly traveling to get where they need to be, including to campus. 

According to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, New Hampshire drivers are currently paying an average of $3.87 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.  

Every mile driven to and from campus seems to make a dent farther into the pockets of students not just attending UNH, but also into those on campuses nationwide. 

 Sarah Muzzey, a UNH senior, drives her car each day to the Duham campus from Dover.

With gas prices approaching $4, it has become difficult to compensate for the cost of commuter charges, Muzzey said. 

"I've relied more frequently on Wildcat Transit this semester in order to spend my money on food and paying my bills," Muzzey said. "My roommates and I have started to carpool a lot more and we'll go in on gas together to help lessen the damage to our wallets." 

With gas prices as high as they are, even a day trip to nearby Portsmouth can be a stretch when the weekend rolls around. 

"Last semester, and in the previous years, I have always gone on different road trips on the weekends either to Portland, Boston or to my home in Plymouth," Muzzey said. "But now that gas is so expensive, I can't remember the last time I went on a trip, and I've only been able to go home once this semester for spring break."

Many students that live off-campus do so in order to save a significant amount of money that they would otherwise be putting toward on-campus housing. In the larger scheme of things, however, many said they are not saving much at all.

Aaron Lecomte, a junior engineering major who moved off campus last semester, factored in the amount of money he pays for gas into the amount he pays for tuition, and said that he still feels that he is paying less than if he were living on campus. 

"Even after paying about $50 every week and a half for gas, I am still saving about $300 a month living off-campus than when I was living in the Gables," Lecomte said. 

While a drop in gas prices is not a familiar sight these days, some students jumped at the chance to participate in the nationwide April 15 Gas Boycott with the hopes of achieving even the slightest drop in prices. 

 In April 1997, a similar "gas out" was conducted across the country in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents per gallon overnight. 

"I would participate without a doubt," Muzzey said. "Although I am only one person, I am contributing to the nationwide movement to help make large oil companies realize we won't stand for this." 

Sarah Bradshaw, a senior psychology major, commutes five days a week for class, and for the occasional Saturday morning lab session. Luckily, however, Bradshaw said her parents help out and cover the cost of school expenses, which in turn, includes filling up her gas tank. 

For students like Muzzey and Lecomte, the increase in gas prices has them barely hanging on when it comes to the question of how they will continue to afford their cars.  Finding a job is an option, but some believe that getting a job simply to cover the cost of gas may not be worth it. 

"There's really no way around it," Lecomte said. "If the price continues to rise to $4 or even $5 per gallon, I think I'd get by just enough to only take my car to campus on the days I absolutely had to. Otherwise, I would start taking the bus," Lecomte said. 

While there are signs that the national average is slowing down, the price of gasoline in New Hampshire is still climbing. According to the Associated Press, the average retail price rose 5.1 cents per gallon in the past week. As of Sunday, it averaged at $3.79 per gallon. 

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