As the economy tightens, college students who have very little to spend find the need for discounted food, goods and services more necessary than ever.
Businesses like Taco Cabana, Alvin Ord’s, Texas Java, the Beltonian and Premiere Temple Cinema 16 offer price reductions and competitive prices to students who might otherwise not be able to afford a cup of premium roast coffee or a couple of enchiladas on an outing with friends.
The discounts, however, are few and far between. Only a handful of places provide a break from the financial stress that comes with being a college student.
For example, the Beltonian, under new management, is offering a college night in which students can enter the theater free of charge.
Sophomore nursing major Jessie Cromack enjoys the 10 percent discount that Alvin Ord’s gives students on sandwiches, but notes that the area lacks in student-friendly dining.
“I’m not sure why we don’t have more discounts,” she said, and added that the cause may be because Belton is “too small.” Cromack suggested that local businesses could adopt a “college night” in which students could get discounted food or services once a week.
Local businesses contribute roughly $200,000 a year to the school to be used for scholarships for students in financial need.
The Director of Corporate Relations, Michael Street, handles monetary interaction between the university and businesses.
He said, “We have more than 100 local businesses and individuals that contributed to our central Texas annual fund, which is a scholarship fund for students here at UMHB.”
Street explains the reason that more discounts are not available in the area is most likely due to university policy.
He said, “We tell them ‘If you will give to our scholarship fund, we won’t come to you and ask for gifts any time within that year.’”
Sophomore Kelly Buethe thinks market conditions influence the lack of reduced prices in the area as well.
“The economy is probably a big reason why businesses do not want to be a little more reasonable when selling to financially troubled college students,” she said.
Students at other universities help stimulate the local economy by using money from their meal plan to eat at restaurants located near campus.
Schools like the University of Texas and Texas State University allow their students to dine with their equivalent of “Sader bucks” off campus, giving them a diverse range of food choices.
Buethe thinks the idea is great for college students but would not work for UMHB.
“It would be useful for me, but I honestly doubt it would be useful for companies. If MHB was a bigger school … then I definitely think it’s a great idea,” she said.
“However, the students here probably do most of their eating out on weekends, which would be fine if not so many people went home on the weekends.”
Freshman computer science major Drew Donahue agrees that the program could be a great addition for students.
He said, “Not only would it allow a variation to the foods applicable to Sader bucks, but I think businesses would also benefit from it.”
Donahue enjoys dining in Belton, but said, “I have been to many places around Belton, and I have never received a student discount.”