Economy forces student budgeting

Mariah Kimpton won’t be returning to GW this fall.

The sophomore said a disappointing financial aid package forced her to discontinue her education.

“Going to college means thinking about student loans in the tens of thousands, amounts of money that are still hard for me to comprehend,” Kimpton said.

Instead, Kimpton will enroll in a community college at home with the hope of transferring to the University of Oregon next year.

Even with the Great Recession ending, the U.S. is still facing an unparalleled economic crisis that has forced students and their families to pay more attention to college expenses.

Bianca Neri, a senior, said she has cut back on entertainment to perserve funds.

“I do pay for things on my own,” Neri said. “My parents only give me money if I ask, which I don’t feel comfortable doing.”

Neri works more than 20 hours per week during the semester for D.C. Reads. She is responsible for paying for her groceries, books, clothes and entertainment.

“I’ve never really gone out, but I do have to watch how many times I eat out versus cooking at home,” Neri said.

For some students, budgeting toward a goal has encouraged them to set up a plan.

Sophomore Annette Karanja decided to cut back on going out in the city to save for a vacation abroad.

“Money affects my social life slightly,” Karanja said.

Like many others, Karanja attends GW with the help of grants and scholarships. The Office of Student Financial Assistance doled out awards to 5,900 students this year, said Daniel Small, executive director of financial aid. That’s an increase of 400 students from last year.

“This economy is probably the biggest challenge that the financial aid office has had to deal with,” Small said.

Small’s office offered $148 million in financial aid to GW students this year.

Sophomore Brian MacKenzie is one of those students. While his parents foot some of his tuition, he has scholarships and student loans to cover the rest. And he’s also responsible for all extracurricular spending.

“At school, I pay for things that come up on my own,” MacKenzie said, which includes books and going-out costs. He says, however, his social habits make his nights out cost less.

“I’ve never really been big on going out and even when I do I’m as cheap as possible,” MacKenzie said. “I don’t drink so by default my nights don’t get as expensive as those that do.”

– Madeleine Morgenstern contributed to this report.</em

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