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Part 1: Back-to-School Scrimping

KYW Regional Affairs Council

"College for the Cost-Conscious"


By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- While the economy continues to sag, tuition costs continue to skyrocket, so an increasing number of students and parents are implementing cost-cutting strategies in order to keep up.

All across America, college campuses are springing back to life right now -- but with a frugal twist.

"We tried to save all our Bed Bath & Beyond coupons and watch for sales at Target and got that on sale at Macy's, so yeah, we tried to be economical," said the mother of one Temple University student just starting college (see related story).

"My mom is a coupon fanatic," said her daughter as they lugged items to her dormitory room.  "Yeah, we were very budget-concsious, trying to stay under 500 (dollars).  I don't know if we managed to do that, but..."

scales_michael TU housing thumb _kurtz
(Michael Scales, Temple University. Credit: Paul Kurtz)

As associate director of student affairs atTemple University, Michael Scales (right) has overseen seven student move-ins so far.  He says the days of excess are over.

"We're seeing students shopping for discounts and looking for ways to be more economical with regard to the cost of attendance," he tells KYW Newsradio.

From New Jersey to California, students and parents are cutting back as they attempt to weather what amounts to a perfect storm of soaring tuition, crippling loan debt, and stagnant or declining family incomes.

More students are adding a roommate, living at home (see Part 2), and increasing their work hours to make ends meet. They're also choosing less expensive schools.

A recent study by Sallie Mae, the country's largest student lender, found that families paid five percent less for college last year than in 2010-11.  Sallie Mae spokeswoman Sarah Ducich says college families are cutting back in a variety of ways -- including picking schools based on how expensive they are.

"We ask families every year, 'Did you eliminate a college based on cost at any point during the application process?'   And what we saw this year is, seven out of ten eliminated a school based on cost.  And that's up from a little over half five years ago."


Listen to Part 1...



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