Students Driving Less May Hurt Colleges

Single mom Katoya Palmer is always there for her son, Kamron. But her attendance record at her community college near Seattle isn't so stellar, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.

She'd been skipping school once a week - unable to afford the gas to get there.

"I was on the road for three hours a day," she said.

So, this summer she moved closer to campus, swapping the suburbs for the city and her commute for a bus ride.

How much is she going to be saving by hopping on the bus every morning?

"Anywhere from $200 to $400 per month," she said.

Eighty-five percent of college students - about 15 million of them - live off-campus. That's a new concern for educators, who fear cutbacks in student driving might lead to lower enrollment.

So while many student commuters are adjusting their lifestyles, colleges all over the country are trying to find ways to help them out.

Already at South Texas College, enrollment in online classes is up 27 percent this summer.

Ripon College is giving free bikes to students who promise not to drive to campus.

And a Tennessee college offers "full-time Fridays," a week's worth of courses in one day - to cut down on commuting.

Southern California student Mike Wahn shortened his commute by switching schools.

"Have you resigned yourself to the fact that some of this is just going be gas debt until you graduate?" Tracy asked.

"Correct," Wahn said. "And then I'll pay it off. Just like a student loan."

A debt students never expected to be carrying down the road.
  • Ben Tracy

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