HomeCommunityAs gas prices rise, students struggle to afford to fill up

As gas prices rise, students struggle to afford to fill up

Published Apr. 7, 2022


In response to increasing gas prices, currently near $6 per gallon of regular gasoline, teen drivers are making lifestyle adjustments such as limiting driving time and looking for new means to obtain gas money.

As paying for gas is one of the main expenditures for the average teenager, this directly affects the student population of Carmel Unified School District, which runs from Cachagua to Big Sur, decreasing beach drives and raising tensions about who is driving whom. 

“I really just think it’s stupid,” says junior Abigail Paschal, who commutes to Carmel High School from Carmel Valley. “It annoys me every morning and sometimes I realize, ‘Shoot, I have no money, and I have to get to school.’” 

In response, Paschal recently found a job to work after school and has begun to receive parental help in paying for gas.

The national state gas price is $4.23 per gallon, with California requiring the most expensive price at an average of $5.88 per gallon. Kansas has the nation’s lowest price of about $3.77 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association as of March 3. Until now, the national average has not exceeded $4 per gallon since 2008 and only California, Hawaii and Nevada have prices that are above $5 per gallon.  

“Right now I am trying to leave my car places as much as I can and trying to drive less when I don’t have to,” says junior Elijah Epstein, who pays for premium gas and has a parent that lives in Big Sur. 

Many students, including Paschal and Epstein, have stopped completely filling up their tanks and instead pay a fixed amount to then attempt to make the resulting gas last as long as possible.

Filling up at the gas station has quickly become a least favorite activity of CHS students. (photo by SOPHIA BONE)

CHS juniors Mya Schnader and John Phillips Sullivan pay for gas with a savings account they earned during their respective summer jobs. But Sullivan has family in Prunedale and Schnader has volleyball practice in Castroville three times a week, so they are finding ways to stretch out their gas money longer mainly through carpooling, refraining from eating out and finding cheaper gas stations such as the one at Costco. 

“We have a Costco membership, that’s how I manage,” Schnader says. “My mom’s Costco card basically lives in my wallet.”

For some students, having to account for more gas money in their budget is stalling other projects. 

“I am currently fixing my other truck, which is cheaper to fill up than the vehicle I am currently in,” senior Wyatt Todd explains. “But since I now have to fill my tank once a week, it is slowing down the fixing process because I only get paid every two weeks.”

Although the increase has been frustrating for kids and their wallets, there is a valid reason for the increase: In response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the United States has levied harsh economic sanctions against Russia, an important oil supplier for the US. While prices were already rising, this has spurred a greater increase.

In general, students are understanding and some are even looking on the bright side of the situation.

“I think it’s good,” junior Hannah Kastner says, “because think about it: People are gonna wanna drive less, they’ll start to carpool and fossil fuels emissions are gonna be lower. We are doing this to support Ukraine, and you just have to give a little sometimes.”


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