On Friday, local Columbia College student Alicia Whatley said she doesn’t know how she can afford to pay for college as she sipped her custom espresso drink from Dollop Coffee.
“I am broke as fuck,” Whatley said in between sips of her $6 caramel triple espresso macchiato with almond milk. “College is just so expensive.”
Pausing for a moment to lick some of the reasonably-priced foam off of her drink, she went on to say, “I don’t understand how they expect us to pay for it. I’m basically in poverty, literally.”
Whatley, a freshman student from Portland, Oregon, chose Columbia College Chicago due to its relative cheapness compared to other urban art schools. However, she did not expect the changes in her lifestyle she would have to make in order to accommodate a more expensive life in the city.
“I’m only able to go out to eat every other day now, and not even at a sit-down restaurant,” Whatley said. “I have to eat at cheap places like Chipotle or Five Guys. It’s not like I’m living in luxury. I save money where I can. For lunch every day, I walk to the Trader Joe’s on Roosevelt and only buy a $1 pretzel roll for lunch. Also, a $5 kombucha. I need those probiotics.
“When my loans start to run out, what am I going to do? Eat at McDonalds? That food is so bad for you!” Whatley said, in between long sips of her frozen blended coffee drink with 84 grams of sugar and 10 grams of saturated fat.
When asked if she had looked for employment to help pay for college, Whatley demurred.
“It’s so hard to get a job,” Whatley said. “It’s like, you need experience to get a job anywhere, but you have to have a job to get experience, you know?”
When further questioned if she had actually applied anywhere, Whatley began talking about her Etsy page where she sells small prints of cappuccino art.
“They’re very nice and zen,” Whatley said. “I have a bunch of them on the wall of my dorm next to polaroids of me and my friends making memories to last a lifetime.” Despite the fact that Whatley’s two-star rated page has made zero sales, she is determined to make it work.
Despite her financial woes, Whatley still finds ways to pay for necessities like her twice-daily coffee breaks.
“I work hard,” Whatley said. “I need this coffee to stay awake for my classes. This Frappuccino isn’t a luxury, it’s an important part of my studies. It’s not like I can afford an espresso-maker to make my own—that shit’s expensive!”
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