How are college students coping with higher dorm rents, food prices, tuition?

Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2022 03:28 PM

MANILA - Some students are cutting back on basic necessities to cope with the rising prices of food, dormitory rent and tuition. Some are also looking to take part-time jobs to help with expenses. 

Second year college student Shane Crystal Dimatatac is attending face-to-face classes for the first time this year.

She said there was a significant increase in prices today compared to 2019 when she was still in high school

“Malaki po ang minahal. Kung dati po nabubuhay na po ako sa P50 a meal, tapos ngayon po umaabot na siya ng P75, P85. Ang laki ng difference.” 

(It has really gone up. I used to get by with just P50.00 a meal. Now I spend P75 to P85 a meal. There's a big difference.) 

The difference is even more glaring compared to the last few years when she was with her parents in Batangas. At home, there was no need for allowance, transport fees and rent. But with face-to-face classes, the expenses of the family shot up drastically.

“Nahirapan po ako mag budget, kasi nahiya na ako sa parents ko.” 

(I’ve been having a hard time budgeting. I feel bad as well for my parents) 

Shane wants to get a part-time job as a server in a fast food restaurant or get paid as a tutor online to help out. But only if her schedule permits.

“Sa mga fast food po, mag-serve, o kaya online tutorial, kaso di po kinakaya ng schedule ko.” 

(I want to try working in fast food, or maybe try online tutoring. But my schedule hasn’t allowed it so far.)

College student Luis Anonuevo said dorm rent has risen to P3,500 a month from P3,000 for a bare unit shared with 4 other students.

Rent can go as high as P6,500 a month in the University Belt area in Metro Manila. This is for sharing with 3 other roommates. If you want the unit to yourself, rates could go from P20,000 to P35,000 a month, for a 25-square meter space. 

Like Dimatatac, Anonuevo is also struggling to make ends meet and is saving up by eating canned goods and having just 2 meals a day. With 2 of his other siblings going to school, it has been a struggle for his father who had to take on extra jobs to pay their expenses.

“Mas mahirap na po, nag-o-OT [overtime] na si Daddy para magkaroon ng sustento. Nag-iisip po ako ng sarili kong source ng income. Nag-iipon po ako ng puhunan.” 

(It has gotten harder, and my father has had to work overtime to take care of our needs. I’m thinking of finding my own source of income, and I’m saving up some capital.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority said inflation for rent in dormitories, prices of prepared food in cafeterias and eateries, and the cost of education services all rose faster in August from July. 

National Statistician Dennis Mapa said there are some seasonalities at play, thanks to the opening of school. 

However, this year also represents the first face-to-face experience for many students in two years’ time, so the spike in prices is especially painful.

Mapa also said it is unclear whether or not inflation could continue a downward trend. The weakening peso could make it more expensive to import gas, which has an impact on local pump prices and eventually, other basic goods, Mapa added.

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