College may have been the best years of your life, possibly all
seven of them, but now it’s time to wave goodbye to that lifestyle
and make a graceful transition into your very own comfortable
cubicle, pressed business suit or whatever your degree has brought
into your future.
The road to graduation can be a costly one, unless of course you
skip the road entirely and hop a ride on the gravy train
Many students graduate from Colorado State University without
ever having to incur any of the crippling costs of higher education
and the life that goes along with it- usually because someone else
was generous enough to financially support him/her through the
pricey proceedings of these college years.
If you find yourself about step off the gravy train and into
reality, here’s a quick estimate at the reimbursement check you’ll
have to write in order to square away your college debt to your
parents, if you should ever feel so obliged.
For you in-state graduates, four years of tuition alone ran you
close to $15,000 according to the financial office at CSU.
Rent and utility payments, at an average of $350 each month, sum
up to another $16,800.
Assuming you were able to limit your food and entertainment
budget to an average of $10 per day, that’s still $14,400 after
The grand total for four years is $46,200. If you took five
years, which you probably did, increase that debt to $57,720.
If you came to CSU from out of state, the price of college life
was $88,064 for four years and $95,864 for five years, using the
It would most likely take every penny you make for the first
couple of post-graduate years just to get out of the red with the
“I hope that some day I’ll be able to pay them back for the
disgusting amounts of their money I’ve spent up here,” said Jon
Thieson, a junior open-option major and gravy train profiteer. “I
wouldn’t make it in college if it weren’t for their financial
Many other students have had a totally different college
experience as they paid for their years at CSU by working long
hours and receiving loans from the school.
“The average indebtedness of a graduating senior in the year
2003 was $16,075,” said Christie Leighton, associate director of
student financial services. “But most students have other sources
of financial aid such as grants and scholarships so the price of
college is really much higher.”
Despite the drawback of loan payments, some students believe
that the financially emancipated life is one of the vital aspects
of college learning.
“I don’t think that (the gravy-train-riders) fully appreciate
the opportunities that supporting yourself offers,” said Jason
Lewis, a senior history major. “You haven’t really been introduced
into the real world until you’ve learned how to stand on your
Since the gravy-train-riders never had to work to earn their
money during college, some people may believe that they don’t know
what it’s like to budget or limit their spending.
“People who get it all for doing nothing just don’t know how to
appreciate the dollar,” Lewis said.
Many of the gravy-train-riders disagree with this idea and even
claim that having financial support only increases the amount one
can absorb from their college experience.
“Having a credit card and other financial resources can
depreciate the value of a dollar only if you abuse those
privileges,” said Bianca Pugh, a junior finance major. “They also
taught me how quickly money can be spent and how important my
college degree will be for my future.”
Sometimes, in order to help ensure a successful future,
activities of the present must be sacrificed. This is especially
true for students with limited financial resources. The social
aspects of college life are an integral part of development and
spending money is often a precursor to participation.
“This is a time where you can find out who you are and what you
want with life,” said Pugh. “I don’t think this time should be
crowded with worrying about how to pay for tuition and rent.”
The overall effects of the gravy train are yet to be made clear.
Having your college life paid for by someone else may create an
apathetic work ethic but it also may create socially and
academically successful students. Either way, by the time you’ve
signed your last bar tab, dropped off your last rent check and
bought your last pizza at two in the morning with your credit card,
the cost of this glorious life you’ve been leading the last few
years is something that any person wishes they could avoid or pass
off to someone else.