The perks of being a college student

Holly MayerFor many of us, the reality of being a college students appears bleak as far as our finances are concerned. We are stuck in a kind of quasi-limbo where we are not completely financially independent.

But for most of us, it’s the most money independence we have ever had to deal with. Whether you’re working while in school, living off of loans or getting help from your parents, we aren’t exactly rolling around in riches.

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But in a way we kind of are. What I mean by that is that while we are not making a six figure salary, as students at CSU we have access to a lot of things that are low-cost or free.

Student Legal Services is an example. Never again will we ever be able to talk to a lawyer about our legal concerns for free. Lawyers charge by the hour, and you’d be looking at about $200 or more for some of the same services that SLS does for free.

Or how about public transportation? As CSU students we can ride on the bus with no charge. For some of us who cannot afford a car — or are like me and too scared to ride a bike — this is a vital necessity that is provided for us.

Sure, one could argue that in the end we are really paying for this through our tuition and student fees, but if you do the math you are actually only paying for a couple months’ worth of these services through your fees. The rest is because CSU does want our college experience to be enjoyable and they realize that sometimes enjoyment is costly.

I know it is hard to see how easy we have it on a day to day basis with all the stresses that come along with being in school and, let’s face it, life in general. But it is important for us to understand that some of the services and discounts provided for us are precious, and we should not take it for granted.

When we graduate and are facing the world on our own, I think all of us will look back at some aspect of college and think to ourselves “Man I wish I had _____ now.” Think about those tiny coupon books that we so carelessly throw down somewhere in our apartment. Those savings really add up, and if you are one of those students that try to find savings anywhere you can those savings allow you to do something perhaps you would of not been able to afford otherwise.

If you have read this far, you are either thinking I’m on my moral high horse or you may be agreeing with me just a little. But don’t assume that I’ve forgotten about reality.

Tuition is going to go up next year, and that means more debt and more penny pinching for a lot of us. Colorado is number 50 out of 50 for higher education funding, and with that statistic comes some bad news for us Colorado college students.

But here is another reality check. Unless you are fortunate to have a high-paying job and escape from college with very little or no debt, you are going to face it again in your lifetime. Complaining about it now is not going to prepare you for when the debt is bigger then ever.

You think you have money issues now? Add on a mortgage, car payments, insurance, children and more. And as a mom I can tell you, children will be the most expensive (though worth it) financial stress you will come across.

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So do yourself a favor. Take advantage of the things offered to us at CSU and around Fort Collins while you still can. The college experience is one of the best and most challenging experiences we will have, but with a little creativity and resourcing it can be both plentiful and enjoyable.

Because let’s face it: We don’t have enough money to buy everything at the grocery store we want, but somehow we find a way to get beer money for the weekend. Just apply the same cost-saving attitude to all aspects of your life.

Holly Mayer is a junior English major. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com