Gas prices force students to alter spending habits

first_imgChristina Ellis, a freshman majoring in fine arts, commutes to her internship in the Fashion District upwards of three times a week. To make that trip, she must pay $53 to fill up her gas tank.“I fill up my tank less often and really push it,” she said.Up 14 cents from last week and 50 cents from last month, gas prices in Southern California now rival those found in Alaska and Hawaii, the two states with the highest gas prices in the country.Southern California gas prices are the highest they have been since 2008, when the state average was $4.61.Gas prices average $3.91 per gallon for regular gas in the Los Angeles Long Beach area, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The price increase has led many students to change their habits.“Now I pay attention and know which gas stations are less [expensive] than others,” said Kirsten Resha, an undeclared sophomore. “I’m more aware now than ever.”Resha, who used to commute to her home in Orange County for the weekend, said she is now less likely to make the drive home because of the increased expense.Students most impacted by the rising prices are those who commute to school every day such as Genevieve Nguyen, a junior majoring in public policy, management and planning.“I’ve changed my buying patterns,” said Nguyen, who commutes 30 minutes everyday from her home in Little Ethiopia.Gas stations near USC are no cheaper than those in surrounding areas.The Chevron on Figueroa  Street charges $3.89 per gallon for regular gas and the United on Pico Boulevard charges $3.87 per gallon for regular gas.Changing gas stations has helped Nguyen keep costs down.“I used to buy my gas at Shell, but now I purchase gas at Costco because it saves me three or four dollars,” Nguyen said.Some students say they are less inclined to leave campus, and instead look for activities in the immediate area.“I don’t take unnecessary trips and I try to watch my speed more closely because I know it will waste gas in the long run,” said Jeff Stanley, an undeclared freshman. “Before I didn’t think twice about driving, now I ask myself, ‘Do I really want to drive that far?’”With no sign of a decrease in the near future, many students have begun to rebudget their expenses.“I don’t offer to drive my friends around because I know I’ll end up paying for gas more when I could put the money toward things I need for school or food expenses,” Ellis said.Stanley said the rising cost of gas has a huge impact on student life.“Everyone is feeling it,” Stanley said. “It doesn’t matter if you commute to school, have a job off campus or do activities away from school, you know that everyone is worried about spending extra money.”last_img

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