Gas prices break students’ banks

By Phil Collins

Whether it’s driving around campus or making a trip home during breaks, rising gas prices affect students’ lives behind the wheel. In the past year, regular gas prices have risen 17 cents in Champaign-Urbana, according to the AAA. The same prices rose 15 cents nationally.

At $3.296, Illinois’ average price for regular gas is the highest among any state in the nation, just ahead of California and New Mexico, according to the AAA’s fuelgaugereport.com.

That average is 24 cents above what it was one year ago.

“Especially being a student, it’s hard getting money already and then having to pay that much to drive is ridiculous,” said Rachel Pierce, junior in LAS.

Students face this mounting expense with few alternatives. Public transportation is available but can be inconvenient, particularly for people who already have cars.

“I walk where I can, I take the bus when I can, but there really aren’t a lot of options in the summer,” said Elizabeth Kraft, junior in Business.

For students traveling to Chicago, the situation only gets worse.

The city’s average regular gas price is currently $3.482. That amounts to a 46 cent climb from last year’s average.

Kraft said, “I travel to Chicago a lot during the summer because that’s where my boyfriend lives.

“I drive up there and it costs me at least $50 in gas to go up there and drive around and come back. That’s a lot for a weekend.”

Having to consider gas prices for a trip may come as an unwelcome addition in planning, but the expense continues to rise.

“It’s always a big aspect when you’re traveling out,” said David Kim, senior in LAS. “You always have to incorporate gas prices. It gets into the hundreds if you’re trying to travel out far.”

The difference in price now makes filling a tank more demanding than in years past.

“When I first got my car, just a couple years ago, it cost me $15 to $20, now it costs $30 to $40 to fill it up,” Kraft said.

Whether prices will continue to rise in the coming months and years has yet to be seen.

However, prices falling under the $3 mark for long does not look likely.

Record-high prices for regular gas were reached across the state this May, amounting to $3.426 in Champaign-Urbana and $3.660 in Chicago.

“It’s so unpredictable, jumping back and forth,” said Jason Hwang, senior in ACES. “I think it’s going to go down a little bit, but not anytime soon.”