Student Price Index shows steeper increase in cost of living for students than average American


Some students may have noticed that their budgets are a bit tighter this year. According to the K-State Economics Club, this is due to continued rising costs caused in part by inflation.

The rising cost of living can be attributed to higher prices in several areas that students are regular consumers of, such as gasoline, tuition, textbooks and housing. This year’s increase is very similar to the previous Student Price Index which showed that the goods consumed by students had increased by 5 percent.

The 2011 Student Price Index, or SPI, is compiled by the Economics Club, showed a 4.9 percent increase from 2010 in the cost of living for the average K-State student. Kyle Landau, vice president of the K-State Economics Club, coordinated several club members to visit local restaurants, grocery stores, bar, gas stations, bookstores and movie theaters to collect information on annual pricing.

“As we all know, 20 dollars will not buy us nearly as much as it could have 10 years ago,” said Landau, senior in economics. “The price of nearly everything has increased substantially over the last decade.”

According to the economics club’s figures, gasoline is up 37.4 percent, tuition is up 4 percent and textbooks are up 10 percent which greatly contributed to the SPI’s 12-month growth.

Student housing also saw an increase in cost. The average housing cost for a K-State student is up by 3.5 percent. The SPI pointed out that a there was a 7 percent increase for off campus and dorms but an unchanged cost increase for Greek housing.

While students have seen a definite increase in prices, the Consumer Price Index for an average American is less. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers increased by 3.9 percent over the last 12 months, rising costs of food and energy have attributed to the increase. The full report can be viewed at .

Daniel Kuester, director of undergraduate studies in economics and faculty advisor for the K-State Economics Club, said “Once again, K-State students have been hit harder than the average customer by inflationary pressures although this year’s change is not tremendously different from the change overall in the Consumer Price Index.”

Since the first set of data was collected in 2002, the SPI has shown an increase in price level of just under 80 percent. Under the same time frame the CPI has increased by approximately 27 percent.

“It is a bit disheartening that students are again impacted by inflation more than the average customer,” said Katie Gustafson, senior in economics.

While costs rose in many areas for students, some areas remained unchanged or are down slightly. Beer, pizza, ICAT tickets and movie tickets were all included in this category in the SPI.

“We have noticed that the prices of goods that most of us would consider to be luxuries, such as pizza and movie tickets, have remained fairly stable,” said Jason Meyer, sophomore in economics.

Meyer said he believed luxuries have remained unchanged because businesses were more cautious about raising the prices of these goods. Many customers with disposable income would be more likely to stop or reduce purchasing such items if the prices went up too much or too often.

“Overall this year’s data is somewhat encouraging when we look at the stable prices of movies, pizza and ICAT tickets along with a decrease in the price of beer,” Kuester said. “The fairly large increases in textbook prices and gasoline may change some student behavior where they wait to buy books until after the semester begins and travel less.”