High gas prices empty students' pockets

By Candace Aum
Pulse Staff Reporter

photo of gas prices: $2.09, $2.19, and $2.29

Students these days are feeling the squeeze of the extreme gas prices thatbhave taken their wallets hostage. For the past two years, students at Palo Alto College have flinched as fuel costs skyrocketed to nearly $3 per gallon. The prices may have declined recently, but Americans would never have considered $ 2.09 per gallon a bargain three years ago.

Why the recent drop? “They might go down before elections,” said Joan Osborne, Instructor of Economics.

Osborne said that there is no evidence of the White House manipulating gas prices, but she said many people believe prices go down before elections so that the ruling party can stay in power.Many are doing whatever they can these days to save money. Students have had to cut out luxuries like eating out, shopping and going to the movies to make sure they have enough money to fill their vehicles. Zeke Rodriguez, a freshman Art and Teaching major, said that he and his girlfriend have definitely had to cut back on luxuries.

“We don’t go out at all,” said Rodriguez. On average, Zeke spends $25 to $30 a week on gas, which adds up to $100 to $120 a month, or $1,200 to $1,400 a year. Talk show host/comedian Jimmy Kimmel joked, “It is literally cheaper to buy a new car than to fill your gas tank!”

Gas prices have also affected PAC’s student enrollment. Assistant Director of Records Linda Cooke said that there are more students enrolled in Tuesday and Thursday classes this semester than Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes. Students who live in San Antonio’s surrounding towns such as Lytle, Floresville, La Vernia and Somerset, are especially affected by the escalating fuel costs. Tracey M. Sanchez, a sophomore Broadcast Journalism and Business Management major, travels to PAC from Pearsall, Texas, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It takes her 50 minutes to get to PAC in her Chevy Tahoe, and it costs her $58 dollars to fill up her tank. “I am currently applying for a job in my hometown to keep the cash flow for gas to stay dedicated to my education,” said Sanchez. Companies that are dependent on truck/SUV sales, such as Ford and General Motors, are also feeling the consequences of the rising gas prices. In June 2006, GM sales went down 25.7 percent and caused the shut down of many plants. Ford cut one-third of its work force, dropped operating costs by $1 billion, and shut it down several plants, as well. There has even been talk of GM and Ford merging to keep each other above water. Aside from that, fuel costs have had the greatest impact on the public in general. According to the American Bankers Association, there has been an increasing amount of late payments on credit card and utility bills. People find themselves using their credit cards more because they lack spare cash, and the interest adds up. There are many alternatives for students to take if they find themselves scrounging for change in the seats of their cars. One idea is to enroll in online classes and pursue their education in the privacy of their own home without having to use an ounce of gas. Also, like many students have already done this semester, students may take fewer trips to campus by enrolling in Tuesday and Thursday classes. Taking the bus is another money-saving option. VIA busses offer a Student Semester Pass. For $20, students can enjoy unlimited travel anywhere in San Antonio, from school to the movies, for five months. All you need to do is go to the Bursar’s Office of any ACCD college and show a valid student I.D. to get the VIA Student Semester Pass. Getting a fuel-efficient car and keeping a car’s engine clean is one of the most beneficial gas-saving tips. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, choosing a car that gets 30 miles per gallon rather than 20 mpg, can save you $663 in a year. That adds up to $3,313 in a 5-year period, if gas prices average $2.65 per gallon. Also, students may save 15 cents to 96 cents by avoiding hasty acceleration and brake riding. “I’m not going to be happy with gas prices until they drop below $1.50,” said Shane Bartley, a sophomore Psychology major. Europeans consider Americans fortunate. According to the “San Francisco Chronicle”, the British are currently paying $6.18 a gallon. In France, gas costs $5.63 a gallon, and Germans are paying $5.86. Lester Brown, author of “Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble,” believes that fossil fuels must be replaced by renewable energy to keep political problems controlled, the environment healthy, and Americans free from financial stress.

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