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The Cost of Commuting to College

written by: Mihir Shah•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 7/1/2010

The cost of commuting to college varies on the distance between home and school. For someone living in Orange County and attending the University of California, San Diego, the cost of commuting is almost as much as it would cost to rent an apartment in the area.

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    Commuter Central

    There are many students who commute to college and are still able to obtain the full college experience. In fact, most colleges have commuter lounges scattered throughout the campus to accommodate the commuter. While the cost of commuting to college is significantly less, it is essential to realize that the hassle and mental strain is much greater. The student living on campus or near the school in an off-campus apartment has the convenience to hop onto a shuttle and go back and forth from class to home. The commuter clearly does not have this advantage. The further the university is from a commuter's home, the more of a burden commuting becomes.

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    Different Ways of Commuting

    A commuter does not always use a car to get to school. Common commuter-transportation mediums include the train and local bus. A student who is attending the University of California, San Diego, but is living in Orange County, is likely to take the train and avoid the strain of driving two hundred miles roundtrip daily.

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    Cost of Commuting to College: University of California, San Diego

    In general, the main vehicle of transportation for the commuter is the car. The conveniences are much greater in that you are not bound by train or bus schedules. A student who attends the University of California, San Diego and lives in Orange County would essentially face the daunting task of commuting nearly two hundred miles daily, five times a week. Breaking down this task on a per-mile basis, the commuter is looking at traveling nearly 1,000 miles in a week's span. Assume gas prices are estimated at $3.00 per gallon and the student owns a car that gives a great gas mileage of 30 mile per gallon on the highway. In this scenario, the student would be using 6 2/3 gallons of gas daily. Calculating this would entail multiplying the price per gallon 3$ by the number of gallons used daily, 6.67. The result is roughly $20 per day in gas costs, or .10 per mile. On a weekly basis, the student would be spending $100 on gas, and roughly $400 per month. While the cost is still significantly cheaper, the commuter needs to assess whether it is that much cheaper than living on campus to validate the hours of traffic commuter must sit through.

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    Cost of Commuting to College: University of California, Irvine

    Assume the same scenario as commuting to the University of California, San Diego. Instead of 100 miles, however, the student lives 20 miles away from the University of California, Irvine. Again, the vehicle operated gives 30 miles per gallon on the highway and gas prices are estimated at $3.00 per gallon. In this case, the student would be traveling only 40 miles per day instead of 200. In fact, the student would be traveling 200 miles for the whole week, while the San Diego commuter is traveling 200 miles per day. Hence, the student attending the University of California, Irvine, would face an expense of only 20$ per week and approximately $80 per month. This scenario is clearly favorable for the student, while the San Diego commuter was paying close to the rent amount only in gas.

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    Resources

    1. http://offcampushousing.ucsd.edu/