The cost of inflation: can students afford it?


Inflation has been on a rapid incline since May 2020, and has significantly impacted students, who have to think about paying for housing, books, transit fares and tuition. With tuition and rent costs skyrocketing, some students are forced to choose between affording the basics of living and digging themselves into a hole of debt to receive an education. In some circumstances, people are forced to delay their education in order to be able to survive. Not all students have the privilege of affording a healthy sustainable life along with their education. Many have struggled with money, and rising prices due to inflation are exacerbating these struggles.

Students often do not have the time to work between studying, extracurriculars, co-op search, classes, etc., and if they do, it is often a physically and mentally exhausting minimum wage job. Some students are on scholarships and have to maintain a certain GPA, which adds an extra layer of financial stress. Many students also rely on co-op jobs to financially support themselves and their education, however the gap between what different students are earning can be really high. While some students earn up to $60/hour, others earn as low as minimum wage.  

Nancy Farenga, a second year legal studies and sociology student, said that she has been aware of inflation and has noticed it recently because of the media, as well as through her own experiences buying gas, groceries, paying for tuition, everyday needs, and even the little things like buying a coffee. Farenga noted that a lot of these expenses have boiled over because she is now living away from home. She stated that inflation has caused her to be more conscious of her spending habits and how often she drives. However, it has also made her work more, resulting in increased stress when it comes to schoolwork. 

In Ontario alone, approximately 358,669 students need to take out loans to support their education every year. Due to inflation, the interest on these loans increases, while the amount you can ask for is decreasing. For instance, the Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP) has lowered their funding by $400M since 2020. 

There are some things you can do to ease the blow and stretch your dollar. Whenever possible, you can cook for yourself instead of eating out, keep a monthly budget to track your finances, or get a flexible part-time job that fits with your course schedule.