2021 Student Price Index shows big increase in gasoline, beer prices

(Infographic by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)

The 2021 Kansas State University Student Price Index shows a 2.6 percent increase in the cost of living compared to 2020, with the most significant increases being in gasoline, beer and groceries.

The SPI, which the K-State Economics Club puts together, provides statistics for 11 different student-spending categories: gasoline, groceries, tuition, beer, pizza, Greek and non-greek housing, textbooks, movies, ICAT sporting tickets and the internet.

The economics club has collected this data since 2002, which shows an increase of about 135 percent in total cost, meaning K-State student cost of living has more than doubled since the project began. For perspective, the Consumer Price Index, which covers the cost of living for all Americans, has increased around 50 percent since 2002, according to a press release from Suzanne Roggenkamp, junior in economics and vice president of the economics club.

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In 2021, however, K-State students beat out the national average as the CPI increased 5.4 percent compared to K-State’s SPI of 2.6 percent. Daniel Kuester, the economics club faculty adviser, said this might be because of some college-aged people having more money.

“The theory that we have is that students have a bit of disposable income that they didn’t have before,” Kuester said.

The big jump in gasoline, beer and groceries — 49.12 percent, 36.36 percent and 10.76 percent, respectively — follow the national average. Sydney Rehagen, junior in economics and secretary of the economics club, said this is because of a series of choices made by people in power.

“With gas and beer prices rising, I believe it has been rising as a result of policies and decisions made in government and decisions made locally,” Rehagen said.

On the down-trend this year were the prices of ICAT sports tickets at -25.42 percent and textbooks at -20 percent. Roggenkamp said estimating the average cost of textbooks was hard to compile, but they completed it in a way they were happy with.

“We were very pleased to discover that the burden of textbook prices has lessened on many students due to an effective grant where faculty are providing some free textbooks to students,” Roggenkamp said in the SPI press release.

Tuition — 3.1 percent — went up this year, breaking a two-year unchanged streak. Greek housing expenses went down slightly at -0.32 percent, while non-Greek housing increased 3.6 percent. Pizza prices went unchanged while the cost of internet slightly moved up 0.02 percent.

“I believe that several of the students who worked on this project enjoyed being a part of a larger project and coming together as a group to collect this data,” Roggenkamp said. “We use the SPI to involve some of our new members in a real economics project.”