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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Can students afford College Station?

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Photo by Bridget Bristow

The new Rev Northgate Student Living apartment complex stands tall on the night of Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. (Bridget Bristow/The Battalion)

The estimated monthly cost of rent, utilities, food and transport for one person in College Station totals over $1,700, according to livingcosts.org.
Computer science and math senior Jessica Williams works with local government to represent student interests and serves as a senator in Texas A&M’s Student Senate. Williams said College Station’s living expenses have risen due to quick increases in rent.
“The affordability issue in College Station is definitely becoming worse,” Williams said. “You hear all this anecdotal evidence of rents rising about 10% per year, and I’ve seen that with my apartment complex, and even with renewals, rent is still rising really quickly. If you talk to anyone living at UCentre on Northgate, their rent can be over $1,000 a month if you’re just moving in. That growth in rent prices isn’t really sustainable over time because students are going into debt already.”
Political science sophomore Zadie Rios said she is able to keep up with costs by living with other people. Rios lives in a four-bedroom, two-bath apartment because living in any other floor plan is too expensive.
“I actually resigned my lease instead of relocating somewhere else, but I live with several people to keep up with costs,” Rios said. “I don’t think I can afford to live on my own or to live with only one other person in College Station.”
Rios said she can afford living expenses because she works part-time. In an effort to cut spending, Rios said she limits her transportation to save money on gas and relies on the Aggie Spirit bus, along with maximizing her use of other on-campus resources.
“I would say the only reason I’m able to afford groceries is because of holding a part-time job,” Rios said. “Last year, I used the first-year experience eats and 12th Can pantry to pick up eggs or milk sometimes.”
A&M’s student-led pantry, the 12th Can, serves students, staff and faculty who struggle with food insecurity. This year, 12th Can has helped feed over 3,862 people, according to its website.
“The 12th Can does a fantastic job providing food to students,” Williams said. “However, the Brazos County vouchers don’t have any funding, and applications have closed. For students who are homeless, the resources can be really hard to navigate if you need more than short-term assistance.”
Williams said options available to students are not enough at times, and students should not have to rely on them to live affordably.
“If you’re on scholarship and your scholarship does increase each year, I’m sure you can submit the cost of attendance adjustment request, but for many students who are on a fixed income or who have a fixed amount of loans, it can be difficult to do that,” Williams said. “It’s unfortunate that our long-term financial stability can be really negatively impacted by the rising cost of college attendance. I think it’s really great to have those resources and safety nets, but ultimately, we want to live in a city where it’s affordable enough you don’t have to use these resources and you can afford food and groceries on your own.”
Williams said working-class families in Bryan-College Station are heavily impacted and have continued to struggle with affordability, too.
“There’s a big challenge in College Station specifically because we’ve developed the vast majority of the land in the city limits that we have, so there’s not a whole lot of places for new development to go, especially new development closer to campus,” Williams said. “That’s a big question. How do we build more affordable housing? How do we create more units as the population grows? It’s an urbanization problem.”
As A&M continues to grow, Williams said she thinks more students will fall through the cracks. Despite the rising living costs, Williams said A&M is one of the more affordable universities for Texas residents.
Undergraduate Economics Director and professor Jonathan Meer, Ph.D, encourages students to take out loans and invest in themselves.
“From my perspective, many students actually take out too few loans,” Meer said. “If you think about the difference in what you earn in the labor force and if you are more comfortable at home, better fed, and you have more time in your day to study, the difference between what you will earn in your first year out of college is probably enough to pay back your loans within that first year.”
Meer said investing in education at A&M will make students desirable in the job market in the future.
“Despite the rhetoric about a student loan crisis, which is factually incorrect, students should be more willing to take out more loans,” Meer said. “From a life cycle perspective of thinking about these four years of college versus the rest of your life, this is kind of a blip in terms of your earnings. People who earn their degrees from Texas A&M are going to be really desirable on the job market, and it’s ok to borrow against those future earnings.”
Students should take advantage of the resources available to them as they will pay off, Meer said.
“Right now, people are willing to loan you a lot of money just to meet your basic needs, and I would actually urge students to make use of the university’s financial aid office and the money center,” Meer said. “There is a really meaningful payoff when you take out loans and being in debt is not always a bad thing.”
Meer said that a student’s well-being is the top priority and to not be intimidated by student loans.
“Make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically and mentally and you’re focusing on your academics as that’s the most important thing here,” Meer said. “I know students can get scared by big numbers with their loans, but that will translate into even bigger numbers on your paycheck than your loans.”
Meer said while the disbursement process could be improved, students should be encouraged to invest in themselves.
“There are better ways for us to disburse financial aid and student loans, many of which are out of [the] control of the university,” Meer said. “I think this is a point in your life where you should be investing as much as possible in putting yourself on that really positive trajectory, and the best way to do that is to be really successful in the labor market.”

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About the Contributor
Hilani Quinones
Hilani Quinones, Assistant News Editor
Hilani Quinones is an Honors Political Science sophomore from Brownsville, Texas double minoring in History and English and pursuing a certificate in Legal History. She began writing for The Battalion in August 2023 and has started serving as Assistant News Editor in January 2024. Hilani has covered news primarily regarding Texas politics, student government, and student issues. After graduation, Hilani aims to obtain a JD degree and pursue a career in law or media. 
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