Besides buying a house, attending K-State will be one of the most expensive experiences students are likely to undertake in their lifetimes. Tuition, housing and cost of living all add up to large sums. Every October, the Economics Club releases the annual student price index, which determines whether student costs have increased over the past year and by how much.
Daniel Kuester, faculty adviser for the club and director of undergraduate studies in economics, said he inherited the price index from a former professor, but he enjoys getting to carry on the tradition.
“It’s really to give some perspective on what inflation means to students relative to the average person,” Kuester said. “And I think it gets enough attention where students become aware of how inflation affects their ability to buy things.”
According to the index, the cost of living for a normal student increased five percent since 2009. Tuition increased by over seven percent, and beer prices jumped over 17 percent.
Weatherly Butler, senior in economics and president of the club, said the index helped make economics easier to relate to the average student.
“It’s a great way for students to see what’s happening in Manhattan and how the changes affect them,” he said.
Katie Gustafson, junior in economics and club secretary, echoed that sentiment, saying the project is an effective way to teach students about inflation.
“I think SPI is really great because students can relate what they learn in class to something practical in real life,” Gustafson said.
To gather all the information, members of the economics club visited local businesses to ask about prices.
Matthew Herman, senior in economics and vice president of the club, was in charge of gathering information. He said the club members went to about 15 different businesses, such as Varney’s Bookstore, Dillons and Rusty’s Last Chance Restaurant and Saloon, to get data on prices.
“I was fortunate to have so many economics members willing to get hands-on,” Herman said. “It really helped out and made my job a lot easier.”
Herman said the club visits the same businesses every year so the recorded price changes are consistent. The club keeps the data, and their records extend back to 2002.
Kuester said student prices have increased faster than the expected increase in consumer prices. The consumer price index will be released on Friday, and he said it is expected to be around a one-percent increase.
Partly because of all the work involved, and partly because of the data, Kuester said the student price index is going to continue as a project, and hopefully will one day make a comparison in prices to the 2002 school year.
The index is one of the biggest projects the economics club undertakes, and Kuester said he thinks it is one of the most valuable.
“I think it’s a good thing in terms of getting our members together and being productive,” he said.