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College students battle inflation, record-high back-to-school spending

North Kansas City family works long hours to offset back-to-college costs
Posted at 4:56 AM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 06:45:55-04

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo — The average family is estimated to cough up $1,200 on college or university items this year, according to the National Retail Federation

Annette Pippins graduated from North Kansas City High School in May of 2022 and all summer long she's been putting in long hours at work to be able to afford college. The 18-year-old plans to attend Louisiana State University and be one step closer to becoming a criminal defense attorney.

“Honestly, I’m pretty happy. I'm excited. I'm ready to meet new people,” Pippins said.

In order to be able to afford college, Pippins and her family decided to take out loans after scholarships and credits were applied to send Annette to LSU. Out-of-pocket costs for the North Kansas City family was a little over $3,000. Pippins also put in nearly 30 hours a week this summer to be able to afford books, electronics and other college essentials.

“I’ve been picking up extra hours at work and she (Annette) worked over the summer at Office Max,” explained Michelle Morrison, Annette’s mom. ”We just told her you know, you work with it. I'll work with it.”

NRF predicts back-to-college spending is expected to reach nearly $74 billion, up from last year’s record of $71 billion, and inflation is taking a toll on families.

Annual NRF survey results indicate one-third of consumers said they are cutting back in other spending areas to cover the cost of items for the upcoming school year.

The DeBruce foundation is a national foundation committed to helping people, including students, find career pathways. Staff at their KC location say families across the metro have voiced their concerns about inflation’s toll on college spending.

“We've seen that with students already trying to take different paths to get where they want to go, and it's totally acceptable,” said Robin Smith with the DeBruce Foundation.

Smith says college-bound families can try to cut down on costs by looking at different options like the military apprenticeships, community college and taking advantage of scholarships and grants.

“This is a time when we really have to look at return on investment, and so taking a sense of what is that cost of education? What kind of salary or other benefits can you expect to receive when you get out? Make that determination at the individual and the family level and then also think about their many pathways to get to success,” advised Smith.

Pippins says she is committed to being an LSU tiger, but is also open to other degree paths if it becomes too much.

“If it gets to that point, then I’ll do it, but I don't know yet,” Pippins said.

Families can also go to My Scholarship Central's website for further assistance. It's a tool which helps students in Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas and the Metro East counties of St. Louis in Illinois find the scholarship providers that serve their area along with interest free loan programs.