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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Battle the buck

???Between struggling to pay tuition and room and board on top of buying food and textbooks, college students have long suffered from monetary misery.

???With the recent U.S. economic crisis, finances have become an even bigger stressor in the lives of UB students, prompting many of the to visit the Counseling Center located in 120 Richmond.

???"It is very common that financial struggles are a part of why a student comes into counseling," said Elizabeth Snider, associate director of Counseling Services. "Often it is the primary reason and frequently it is an additional stressor that exacerbates other issues they are struggling with."

The effects of financial concerns

???Snider believes that such financial concerns are unhealthy for students and may lead to insomnia, decreased appetite and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can interfere with a student's ability to learn.

???Snider has found that many students have even altered their academic plans in order to achieve better economic stability.

???"[My colleagues and I are] hearing about many real problems and changes students needed to make in regards to cutting back on classes or increasing work hours more and more," Snider said.

???Snider has found that students are also beginning to explore other options that they may not have considered before.

???"More undergraduate students are considering applying to graduate school so that they can defer dealing with the poor job market for a few more years," Snider said. "Some graduate students have talked about deliberately slowing down their progress on theses or dissertations so that they can maintain student status and be eligible for loans or assistantships."

???For some students, the shame and guilt associated with delaying the move to the job market can be overwhelming, according to Snider.

???"This can be especially true for first generation college students, as college can be seen as a way of realizing the American dream or having someone in the position of helping others in the family financially," Snider said.

???Snider and her colleagues have advised students who are considering dropping out of UB because of increasing financial burdens. UB Counseling Services encourages students to think about the different paths that they can take and select one that would be most helpful to them in their situation.

???"While UB Counseling Services always tries to assist students to manage their lives in a way that ensures academic success, we also try to assist students in looking at all of their options and to come up with a plan that best meets their financial and academic needs," Snider said.

UB's helping hand

???With an increasing number of students struggling with financial problems, many are beginning to question whether UB is doing enough to help them.

???From 2000 to 2002, there was a food pantry located in the Episcopal Campus Ministries office in the Commons for students who needed food.

???Organized by Linda Wilson, the former director of Episcopal Campus Ministry and current Assistant Director of Student Medical Insurance Programs, as well as a group of student volunteers, a monthly pick-up of 65 students came to the pantry to fill their stomachs with a free meal.

???According to Wilson, any student who met financial aid requirements was eligible to eat at the pantry. The food pantry workers noticed a visible need for such a resource on campus.

???"The student groups that were part of our outreach programs felt it was necessary, and we could see amongst ourselves it was necessary," Wilson said.

???Despite the economic crisis, Wilson does not believe that UB currently has a greater need for a food pantry.

???"There is always a need, no matter what," Wilson said. "We have a pretty large community here, so yes, I think there's always going to be a need."

???Some members of the UB community recognized the struggles of their fellow students and gave of their time to help them.

???"The best part was that it was students servicing other students," Wilson said.

???The food pantry closed because they lost the space and the funding from the Episcopal diocese, according to Wilson.

???A small group of students from the Newman Center Catholic campus ministry hope to make a food pantry at UB a reality once again. They have been meeting on a weekly basis to negotiate plans for the new pantry, although the exact time that it will be initiated is still uncertain.

???"What I think they should do is offer more help to families who are struggling with their income," said Brian Ahumada, a junior business administration major.

???Amy Gambino, a freshman psychology major, also believes that UB is not doing all that it can to help students in difficult economic situations, but urges an entirely different approach to solve the problem.

???"I think there should be more scholarships that are not based on financial need," Gambino said.

Student voices

???Some students have found that the economic downturn has taken a major effect on their lives.

???"I feel that I've been personally affected by [the crisis] because my family has been laid off due to rough times with industries trying to afford their expenses," Ahumada said.

???Jia Song, a freshman pre-pharmacy major, feels that the university administration has inflicted an untimely financial burden on students in this time of economic crisis by raising the cost of tuition.

???"I feel the economic crisis because our tuition has spiked up," Song said.

???According to Snider, Song is not alone in her struggles. The consequences of the economic crisis have made it harder for many students to afford attending UB.

???One student who seeks guidance at UB Counseling Services is working 35 to 45 hours per week and may have to take a leave from school because her father was recently laid off and she has to contribute to family finances, according to Snider.

???Another student needs to transfer back to his hometown because his paid internship was cut and he can no longer support himself living alone in Buffalo.

???Ahumada hopes that the entire campus will come to a better understanding of student financial difficulties as a whole.

???"If you're rich, then this economic crisis doesn't have much to do with how you're going to spend your money," Ahumada said. "If you're middle-class or lower, then you might feel how I feel about money - scarce and precious at the same time."



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