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Financial strain leads some college students, graduates to move back home

Published: Thursday, April 15, 2010

Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011 14:02


Nate Lipka

ASU junior Janssen Wallace (right) is living with his mother Shirley Wallace and two younger siblings in Phoenix.

One of the first things college people look forward to is independence. But with independence comes financial burden.Traditionally, students are cheap labor (i.e. internships), and after facing the inflation of tuition with their menial incomes, students are now digging deeper than usual to pay housing expenses. With this comes a migration of homeward bound students who are able to cut out one of the biggest coffer-suckers: rent.

About 80 percent of 2009's graduates moved back home after walking, according to Only 11 percent intended to stay for the summer, but 69 percent said they would stay until they found a job. And that's no easy feat with unemployment at 9.7 percent, and Phoenix doesn't even make's list of "Top 25 Cities to Start a Career."

Moving home is something that may have been considered a failure to launch 10 years ago, but is now a methodic and shameless way to pinch a penny, even for those college seniors and grads with degrees.

Blake Pappas, 25, graduated from ASU with a bachelor's in justice studies in May 2009. He moved home after graduation and worked part-time while he held out for a good job.

"[Moving home] is never going to sound awesome," Pappas said of the possible "bunking with the folks" stigma. "But the pros outweighed the cons," he said, adding, "I knew it'd be a temporary thing."

However, finding a job and being ready to move out took seven months.

So, what are the cons to rival the copius amounts of money you'll be saving? No "beer and pizza" binges until 2 a.m., and you're parents may not dig your "don't knock when there's a sock on the door" rule. Also, students who live at home are also kind of isolated from campus night life or student support.

While students say there are drawbacks to moving back home some are left with little choice.

One Gilbert Chandler Community College fine arts student, Deerae Cummings, 19, who lives with her parents, said college by itself "costs everything" she has.

"It's nice to have a seemingly endless supply of Capri Sun and Cheez-Its," she said about living at home. "I've noticed when I go to a friend's house or dorm, they always have no food at all; maybe some ketchup and alcohol."

Cummings plans to move into a dorm at ASU in a year.

There are no statistics that correlate academic performance to proximity to campus, however, ASU's University Housing website's mission statement says the department is "committed to the academic and personal success .by providing welcoming and inclusive living and learning environments." The website also details that students can learn by being surrounded by people going through similar situations or studying for similar topics.

Janssen Wallace, 20, a creative writing junior at ASU who used to live in the Hassyampa Academic Village residence hall at ASU, moved home after his freshman year because he said that although living on his own was fun, it didn't live up to the hype. He then got an apartment with friends, making rent by bagging groceries, but moved out after the six-month lease was up, quit his job and moved home with his mom in Phoenix.

Although this comes at a price: his social flexibility and driving 30 minutes one-way to campus.

One of the biggest blows is the strain living at home can put on a college student's social life. Wallace said his mother acts as his cook, secretary and "chauffer." He can turn to her for help with things make it worth it. And even though all of that is great, Wallace intends to move out sometime before he's 21.

"I see myself moving out sometime during my upcoming senior year, but even this is not guaranteed," Wallace said. "I could be living at home after college, it's definitely a possibility.

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