Tag Archive | "shopping"

High school seniors need college cash

Reporting by: Amber Benham, Rachel Senatore, Jessica Simeone and Nicole Turso

Teenagers these days aren’t just thinking about love and movies; they’re worried about how they’ll pay for college in a recession.


For these seniors, saving money is the goal.

Ivan ColladoIvan Collado
Ivan got accepted at the University of Michigan, but there’s a nearly $15,000 gap between the financial aid he got and what he’ll owe. [audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/IvanCollege.mp3|titles=Ivan talks about college]
He’s trying to figure out how to make prom cheaper.[audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/IvanProm.mp3|titles=Ivan talks about prom] Emily PalkanEmily Palkan
Emily is comparing tuition costs to find the best deal. [audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/EmilyCollege.mp3|titles=Emily talks about college]She says taking a limo to prom is more expensive than it used to be. [audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/EmilyProm1.mp3|titles=Emily talks about prom]

Ivan Collado, a senior at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, was accepted at the University of Michigan, but the $30,000 financial aid package he was offered isn’t enough to cover the $44,797 tuition.   His dad’s income is already stretched too thin supporting a family of five, so Ivan knows he’ll have to turn the school down.

“It felt worse than a rejection,” he said.

While tuition is up at both the City University of New York and the State University of New York, private scholarships are down, said Kerry Hughes, a college adviser at Molloy.   Even at the private school where she works, students are making tough choices this year about where to apply to college.

Ivan’s classmate Sydney Umana dreamed of going to Penn State.  But all that changed when she got a full scholarship to Felician College in New Jersey.

“I kind of have to go there now. It’s not a bad school, but, you know, it’s not my first choice,” she said. “If not, my parents would have to pay for everything.”

Though senior year is a notoriously expensive time for adolescents, parents of this year’s graduating class face more than the typical financial pressures as they prepare to send their children out of the nest.  For many families, tough times mean smaller college funds than they expected.

“Parents tell kids, ‘Apply anyway. Don’t worry about cost,’ in junior year,” said Hughes. “Then senior year, when push comes to shove, they tell them they can’t afford it and the kids go bananas here in my office.”

Another expense at a bad time

But before college tuition hits, these teens have another major expense to contend with first—senior prom. The event can cost hundreds of dollars once dresses, tuxes, transportation, flowers and entrance fees are all paid for.

Megan Kerrigan, co-founder of the non-profit organization Operation Fairy Dust that provides girls with donated prom dresses and accessories, said she’s been getting more calls than usual this year. She estimates she has enough dresses to outfit 6,000 girls, but with the meager cash donations Fairy Dust receives annually– “$1000, if we’re lucky”– she can’t afford to rent a space big enough to give them all away. This year, with corporate donations smaller than usual, she expects to help 1,000 girls.

In the face of overwhelming prom expenses, many teens are bargain hunting for their outfits, shopping in groups to get discounts and checking cheaper venues. But with more serious expenses ahead, Ivan Collado can still laugh about the money he doesn’t have to pay for prom.

“Can we take out loans for prom and pay it back later?” he joked.

Megan Kerrigan of Operation Fairy Dust says the bad economy has left her organization with more girls in need, but fewer cash donations to make it happen.

Posted in Multimedia

The End of Conspicuous Consumption

Karina Ioffee, Igor Kossov, Rachel Geitzhals, Mark Morales and Rima Abdelkader

Thrift is In: Consumers’ Attitudes Adjust to Downturn in Market

By: Mark Morales

testGone are the days of leisurely walks through the mall. Bargain hunting is all the rage now, and a necessity for a growing number of people. And while many retailers are reporting a drop in sales, some are benefitting from the financial crisis.

Goodwill Industries International saw a 5.5 percent increase in sales from the previous year. According to Lauren Lawson, a Goodwill spokeswoman, it’s the bargains that are driving the spike. “You can spend a hundred dollars and look as good as someone else who shops at a major retailer,” said Lawson.

Goodwill’s success is an anomaly. JC Penney reported a 9.8 percent dip for February and is predicting equally low results for the month of March. Gap Inc. isn’t faring much better, with its North American division reporting a 12 percent decrease for February 2009. Banana Republic and Old Navy have also been hard hit.

Meanwhile, Goodwill continues to flourish, seeing a rise not only in sales but also donations.

“People like the aspect of donating and shopping and reusing,” says Lawson.

On a recent day Joshua Perlowitz,47, and a resident of Flatbush, Brooklyn had found a table and chair for only $30. The items had been marked down from $100. That’s a big difference for Perlowitz, the father of four teenagers, who frequently need new clothes as well as items for school.

“I’m just trying to make ends meet,” he said.

At Michael’s, a consignment store located amidst the posh boutiques of Madison Avenue, business is also jumping. Here women sort through racks of Armani pants and Oscar de la Renta dresses, as well as both new and used bridal gowns. The store feeds the need for designer labels—this is Manhattan, after all—while minimizing the sticker shock that often goes along with it.

Clothes may be one thing, but what about cars which many rely on to get to and from work? Auto sales are down 41 percent from last year, as consumers wait longer to purchase new cars. But repair shops are also feeling the pain, as more people wait until the very last minute to make needed changes. At Maven Motors, in Jamaica, Queens, the shop is nearly empty on a recent day, a marked change from earlier days.

“We used to be packed,” says Primnath Singh, a mechanic. “We used to not have the time to even spit.”

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Photo Slideshow: Life in the Slow Lane

By: Rachel Geizhals

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The automotive industry is in pain as consumers look to more efficient foreign-made cars. But repair shops are also feeling a sting, with drivers waiting longer to get needed repairs and forgoing many others. Click on the photo to visit a Queens-shop.

Take a Chance on Me

By Igor Kossov

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Retail sales have dropped, but people are still buying lottery tickets. Even in the darkest of times, hope is the last to die.

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Listen to the radio story here.

[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/03/lottopiece_1-2.mp3]

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Something Old, Something New

By: Rima Abdelkader

The economy may be in the dumps, but people still get married. Check out a Manhattan store that is cashing in by selling discount bridal gowns.

Posted in Multimedia