Opinion: Increased gas prices have forced me to miss class

Gas prices, 2022
Photo courtesy of Saul Loeb

The COVID-19 pandemic forced college students to take a different approach to their learning with classes going online and campus housing hitting all-time lows. Now, as gas prices in Idaho rise, so do the pressure on students that live off-campus at Boise State.

As a student from out of state, I had little hope of getting housing on campus during the start of the fall 2020 semester. Luckily, I was able to secure housing with family members, but that put me in Meridian and forced me to make a half-hour drive whenever I wanted to get down to campus. 

With a majority of my classes being online, it wasn’t often that I had to make the trip. However, as things began to open back up in Idaho and COVID cases began to decline, I was making the trip to Boise more and more often. 

As fuel prices continue to rise, the financial strain of the half-hour daily drive to campus is getting worse. To some, living 14 miles away from campus may not seem that big of a deal, but when you factor in daily traffic, the trip gets longer and longer. 

I currently go to campus every day except Thursdays when I have no classes. On Wednesdays, I make two separate trips due to my schedule. Overall, that’s close to five hours of travel time back and forth in one week of classes. 

Gas prices, 2022
[Gas prices at a Shell station.]
Photo courtesy of Saul Loeb

When I was living with family, I didn’t have the burden of paying for housing. However, now that I have moved into an apartment, I rely heavily on my job to pay my bills, as well as my school fees. 

Before the fuel price jump, I was handling the balance between work and school well in financial terms. But, the added gas prices has made me have to rethink my spending. I am now spending double on gas in a month than what I was previously, which is an added expense that I did not need on top of rent and living expenses. 

Not only has the added cost of gas put a strain on my finances but it has also put a strain on my academics. With the shift from online to in-person classes, I often found that my professors would not lecture for the entire time, allowing students to leave early on occasion. 

This used to annoy me simply because the hour round trip commute would take longer than the actualclass period. But now that I am paying so much more for gas, I often skip class entirely because I never know if my professors will use the full class time. 

I realize that missing out on or skipping lectures is never the answer when it comes to academic success. You always want to be present and ready to learn more, but the fact that one trip down to campus could cost me five dollars in gas on top of another three dollars in parking fees makes it hard for me to justify wanting to show for a less than thirty-minute class. 

Now more than ever it is important for the professors and supporting staff at Boise State to recognize that students are facing an unprecedented financial burden. Students that live off-campus that are taking in-person classes are required to commute back and forth, often multiple times a day — they’re surely feeling the impact of these rise in gas prices.

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