College Students in Poverty Level

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EUGENE, Ore. — Many students move into dorms or off campus housing during their college years, and it appears to be affecting Eugene’s poverty rate.

The poverty rate in Eugene is nearly 24 percent, according to researchers. And about 7 percent of that is college students who live off campus. The city says it’s aware of that, and students say there’s a reason.

“I didn’t know it was that intense,” said UO student Hailie Winkler.

According to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, college students living off campus largely affect the poverty rate in Eugene. Wthout students like Winkler, the poverty rate would drop nearly 7 percent.

“I’m going to be a junior, and I think it’s really sad that I can’t get a job on campus or off campus,” said UO student Signey Espinoza.

But Espinoza has tried relentlessly.

“I’ve applied to 11 jobs. I’ve counted 11 jobs, and I haven’t gotten any, both on campus and off campus,” Espinoza said.

For Winkler, she’s been a bit more fortunate.

“Out of all my friends, I’m a rarity. I do work,” Winkler said.

Job or no job, both students don’t want the poverty rate statistic to cloud people’s judgment of the students that live off campus.

“I think that it’s actually really sad because we’re all here contributing to Oregon, to Eugene, and we’re students,” Espinoza said.

The City of Eugene agrees. Grants manager for the city, Stephanie Jennings, says this statistic is just one piece of information out of many that help with bettering Eugene.

“We look at it in combination with a lot of other information to understand trends within the community,” Jennings said.

Jennings also says stats like these are taken from a sample and, therefore, not always completely accurate.

“Particularly with samples, there is a margin of error because there isn’t a complete accounting for every single person,” Jennings said.

According to the study, this particular stat has about a 2-percent margin of error, which Jennings says everyone should to take into account. She says students are important to the Eugene community because after college some stay in Eugene and contribute.

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