A College Kid, A Single Mom, And The Problem With The Poverty Line : Planet Money : NPR

Percent and number below the poverty threshold...

Percent and number below the poverty threshold for the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Pam Fessler

The College Kid

Rico Saccoccio is a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx. He’s from a middle-class family in Connecticut and he spent the summer living at home with his parents, who cover about $15,000 a year in his college costs.

According to the U.S. government, Saccoccio is living in poverty. The $8,000 he earns doing odd jobs puts him well below the $11,945 poverty threshold for an individual. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that more than half of all college students who are living off campus and not at home are poor.

Saccoccio has lots of student loans and lives off campus in a Bronx apartment where the elevator, heat and hot water don’t always work. Sometimes, he microwaves water in Tupperware to wash his hair.

Still, he says, “I really don’t think of the ‘poor college’ kid as actually somebody who is in poverty. … It’s a temporary investment, and you don’t have to live like you do in college after you leave school.”

The Single Mom

Marion Matthew, a home health aide and single mom, also lives in the Bronx. She relies on a local food pantry and government benefits like food stamps and housing assistance to support herself and her 17-year-old son.

But, according to the government, Matthew is not poor. She earns about $23,000 a year, which puts her well above the federal poverty line for a family of two — about $15,825 in 2012.

Matthew says she certainly feels poor, because the money doesn’t go very far in a city like New York.

“It costs you at least $500 a month for a person to eat,” she says. And that’s not to mention what she has to pay for rent, clothes and transportation to and from work.

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About The Soul Brother

An observer to the world. I have a unique view of the world and want to share it. It's all in love from the people of the "blues". Love, Knowledge, and Sharing amongst all is the first steps towards solving all the problems amongst humanity.
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