The Louisville Cardinal

To drive or not to drive, that is the question

By Nathan Gardner–

Although campus housing can seem quite expensive, with the quickly rising fuel prices one can wonder when the cost of commuting would outweigh the cost of housing. We did some number crunching to find the point at which driving to school and living on campus cost the same.

To begin, we found the average fuel economy among the cars driven by the editors of The Louisville Cardinal to be 26 miles per gallon. This included both foreign and domestic vehicles, as well as one hybrid and one pick-up. According to, on Sunday, April 1, the average cost for one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.04, and that’s no joke.

In conjunction with the cost of fuel, the cost for living on campus in Miller, Unitas, Center, West, Wellness and Threlkheld Halls is $2,325 per semester. Students have 15 weeks of classes and one finals week.

Let’s say a student is full time with 12 hours of classes and commutes Monday through Friday and has four finals, each on separate days during finals week. This adds up to a total of 79 days of commuting.

Using the $2,325 that would be spent on housing, our average student could buy 575.5 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline. At 26 miles per gallon, that would take him or her 14,963 miles. At 79 days of commuting, that allows for 189.4 miles of driving per day. Divide that by two, to account for the drive to and from school, and a student could live 94.7 miles from campus before the commuting cost would be more burdensome than the cost of living on campus. That means if you commute from the Kentucky towns of Covington, Bowling Green or Winchester, it would be more economical to stay on campus. But if you live in Cave City, Lexington or Florence, despite fuel prices in excess of $4 per gallon, it would still be cheaper to drive to campus daily.
Photo/Flickr: kvanhorn