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Commuting from home can save money

April 29, 2015

Commuting to and from River Falls can be a hassle, but it can also be something that can be very beneficial.

Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus in the dormitories or the suites at UW-River Falls. Upperclassmen can live wherever they like, some live on campus and some in River Falls and there are others who commute.

River Falls is considered a suburb of the Twin Cites so it isn’t uncommon to find students who commute to and from the Twin Cites to River Falls.

UWRF junior Pat Prusinski lived on campus his first two years, but he is now living at an apartment in town and commutes to his job at Menards in Hudson, Wisconsin, everyday.

“I live in town so I don’t have to drive to class, but I do have to drive to Hudson for my job everyday and it can be a hassle,” Prusinski said. “It is time consuming and all of that time on the road adds up, even though it is not that far to Hudson.”

Along with being time consuming, there are other things that can be difficult for commuters to deal with, like gas prices and the cost of maintenance on vehicles.

“Paying for gas is the worst, I don’t think anyone likes it, but at least the price of gas has evened out a little bit, “ Prusinski said. “They are not as outrageous as they used to be.”

The price of gas has steadily been going up and experts are expecting the price to stay around its current price until the end of the summer months, according to GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks gasoline prices. The average gas price was over $2.50 last week.

Prusinski said that he is lucky because he doesn’t have to fill up his tank as often as other people that he knows.

“I have a few friends who drive back and forth from the cites, and they have to fill up a lot,” Prusinski said.

Vehicle maintenance may be one of the worst things about commuting when something simple gets broken and it may cost hundreds of dollars to fix. Prusinski knows far to well the hardships of having a car that likes to break down.

“My car isn’t the best, it’s pretty old and it has broken down on me a few times,” Prusinski said. “Once it broke down while I was at work and wouldn’t start when I was trying to get home. Lucky for me, my boss was nice enough to give me a ride, but until I got it fixed I had to rely on friends to give me a ride to work.”

Prusinski said that when his boss was giving him a ride back from work, that his boss’ car was involved in a car wreck. A deer ran out in front of the road and hit the car.

“I will never forget that day, first my car wouldn’t start, then we hit a deer on the way home,” Prusinski said. “I thought I was cursed or something.”

While there may be some downfalls to commuting every day to and from school, there is also significant benefits that UWRF students may want to consider.

The average student living campus would spend $7,524 per school year, while someone living off campus could be renting a room anywhere between $300-$400 dollars a month. With added expenses living off campus, a student could be looking at paying between $4,800 and $6,000 per year. Students that commute to campus on a weekly basis could be saving money up to half of that price.

UWRF student journalist Cooper Nelson decided to test this theory out for himself and commute from home for a week. Sunday night he filled his tank, which cost $25, and reset his odometer to get an exact mileage. For one week he commuted to and from River Falls from his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Nelson drove 70 miles to and from campus for five days, and by the end of the week his gas tank was completely empty. If he were to do this every day, with gas prices at the same price, he would spend $1,300 per year on commuting, and not have to spend money on other expenses like rent and groceries.

Parking is an issue that students might run into when it comes to commuting. Students are asked to spend $0.50 per hour to park in the designated lots. While spending anywhere between $3-4 a day for one year, students could be spending anywhere between $1,095 and $1,460.

Including the $1,300 a year a student could potentially spend on gas, it is still cheaper than living off campus. Students could also avoid paying for parking by parking on the streets surrounding the campus.

While living off campus does have its perks, commuting to school is more beneficial to someone living in the surrounding area.

According to the UWRF website, someone who chooses to live off campus as an undergraduate student tends to spend just over $20,000 and $2,300 of that money is based on travel.

This stat is compared to someone that lives with their parent or guardian during the school year who spends somewhere between $15,000-$15,600 in a school year, with $2,300 of that money based off travel as well.

This is the final chapter in the Student Voice’s series of stories revolved around the issue of commuting to the UWRF campus.