Joseph Fisher, Managing Editor
She sits at her desk in her Luzerne Hall dorm on a rainy Tuesday evening, typing away at a paper that is due Friday; Sarah Lamar is concentrating intently at her research to complete her assignment. It is 9 p.m. and her roommate, Kate Brown walks lethargically in the room after spending hours studying for her rigorous classes.
The relationship between these two 19-year-old sophomores at Bloomsburg University seems like a normal roommate situation. Two friends living together in a 15 x 12 room getting an education to better prepare themselves for the workforce post graduation. These two individuals, however, like many students, have the thought of money on their minds at all times. While their situations are similar, feeling the financial burden, they are both coping in different ways.
Brown is pursuing a degree in music education and French. Lamar is studying to become a secondary education history teacher. In order to make their career goals a reality they must endure four years of school bills and years of paying off debt after graduation.
A majority of the more than 10,000 students enrolled at BU are working to support themselves. Over 2,000 work-study jobs on campus are available for students who have a financial need. Many more college students work in town and along Rt. 11 for some extra cash while juggling a full course load of classes. The luxury of just taking classes is unrealistic to most students who themselves or their families have been affected by the struggling economy in some way or another.
Her mother makes her way to the kitchen and sits down at the circular kitchen table covered with unpaid bills and final notices. She anxiously scans over the pile, wondering how she will afford to pay off the ever-growing heap in front of her.
Realtors’ nationwide, Brown’s parents among the group, found themselves not being able to get rid of listings and unable to find people looking to move. This standstill was a rude awakening for the Brown household.
“The lifestyle that my mother and stepfather were used to caught up to them,” Brown said. “They eventually found themselves in debt because of the excessive spending.”
A normal weekend for Brown’s mother and stepfather would be spent at the Langhorne Hotel, but instead, these two realtors find themselves saving their money by purchasing booze to drink at their home. The couple was used to a more extravagant and free-spirited lifestyle, but when the housing market fell flat by the end of 2008 and money was not coming in as regular as before, the couple found themselves having to change their ways. One of those changes, for the first time in a long time, was being more conservative with disposable income.
However, Brown’s stepfather finds himself in a sticky situation. By spending a few nights a week at a local bar drinking, eating, and socializing with bar-goers, he racks up a yearly tab of over $10,000. But in return, he meets people looking to put their houses on the market and finds himself making additional income. So, even though he is clocking in hundreds of hours at the bar, he is essentially working and making connections with those who may have friends or family looking to sell.
“I am sure my stepdad would rather be spending his free time with his family,” Brown said. “He accrues more business if he makes appearances at local eateries. It’s like he’s at work when he’s at the bar. It’s an investment. ”
One advantage Brown has to many students is her full-tuition scholarship from the Board of Governors. She still has to pay for a meal plan and housing, but because of her strong academic record she receives a remarkable reward. This reward is especially beneficial because it keeps her loans at a minimum compared to those who have much more severe costs to payback. According to the university website, over two-thirds of BU students receive some type of aid.
Lamar and Brown both have part-time jobs. Lamar has worked at Wendy’s as a cashier since she was 15 years old, and Brown busses tables at the Langhorne Hotel. Brown’s family situation is one of millions of different outcomes this economy has produced for families in the United States. The value of a dollar in a college student’s pocket has and will only continue to become more valuable, which will more than likely make the full time working student a standard situation moving forward.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of these two students