For Robert Gaskill, 21, a student at the College of William and Mary, the recession is providing an indelible lesson in deficit spending. It means running out of pocket money at midyear, buying concert tickets with IOUs and staying home when the rest of his crowd decides to while away an afternoon at the local Greenleafe Cafe.
"I don't eat out anymore. It makes me feel kind of self-conscious in a crowd when people say, 'Let's all roll over to the "Leafe," ' and I can't go. But I don't have the money to spend on that. I eat noodles, 25 cents a pack, and I eat eggs. You can survive on eggs."
The problem for Gaskill, and many students like him, is that well-paying summer jobs have evaporated. Until last year, the Leesburg resident always returned to Williamsburg in the fall with at least $1,000 in savings to pay for books and expenses. That supplemented the $70 his father, a retired government employe, sends him for food every two weeks.
Last summer, despite a long search, the best Gaskill could find was two days' work a week as a hospital technician in Washington. After paying $100 a month for rent and food, Gaskill was left with $500 to take back to school. Twenty dollars of that is all that remains.
All of the on-campus jobs are filled, and Gaskill is hoping to get a job busing tables at a local inn. That would help his pocketbook, but not his resume, he worries. Still, he's not complaining.
"Looks like it's back to restaurant work," he says. "If I can get it."