Beer and gas prices are up, but overall student costs only saw a small uptick this year


It’s no secret that being a college student is expensive, and the K-State Economics Club’s yearly Student Price Index report is tracking just how much more expensive it is this year.

In its annual report, the club reported a marginal increase of 3.5 percent in the student price index — a measure of the cost of attending K-State based on prices collected on a bundle of goods typically purchased by K-State students compared to the price for those same goods from the year prior.

While the club estimated the increase of 3.5 percent, the figure was not much higher than the national Consumer Price Index, which measures a similar change in the goods the average consumer buys nationally.

The overall increase in the SPI is attributed primarily to prices increasing in several key categories outside of the dominant categories of tuition and housing, according to the economics club.

Brock O’Brien, vice president of the club and sophomore in economics, coordinated the efforts of members who visited local restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, bars, bookstores and movie theaters to gather information regarding annual pricing during the third week of September.

“I noticed that we may have an imperfect measure of inflation, but we generally capture the overall trends in student prices and cost of living,” O’Brien said. “For example, some campus housing became significantly more expensive this year, but renting an apartment off campus in Manhattan became significantly cheaper.

The price of groceries went up by 5.8 percent, which is attributed mostly to the increase of Coke and Pepsi prices. The price of grocery basics, such as bread and meat have remained steady and the price of milk has fallen.

Gasoline prices went up by 9 percent, but the club reports the increase is smaller than in most years.

The largest category that increased was beer, which rose by 16.7 percent. This could change how students consume their alcohol or spend their free time, Carter Jones, freshman in economics, said.

“Beer generally has many substitutes for those wanting to consume alcohol in some form, such as wine and spirits,” Jones said. “As a result, beer prices are likely elastic, meaning that students will likely consume much less beer on average as the price keeps increasing at such a rate.”

Daniel Kuester, faculty advisor for the economics club, said this is a great project for students to understand how a price index is calculated and he even uses the raw data in his principles class.

Kuester said the rate of student inflation at K-State increased less than it has in previous years.

“I’m pleased that student inflation at Kansas State is significantly milder than last year,” Kuester said.

My name is Bailey Britton and I am the former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.