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How students can budget properly amidst record high living cost



Typical undergraduate courses in Nigerian universities are between four to five years with exceptions like Veterinary Medicine and Human Medicine which can last up to seven years.

This means a final-year engineering student has been in school since 2019 at least. A lot has changed since 2019.

On January 1, 2019, the Naira traded against the greenback in the parallel market for N360/$.

As of May 1, 2024, the dollar exchanged hands for N1360/$; exactly a N1000 dip than it traded in 2019. The Naira is not the only thing that has suffered since that time period.

Let’s take a look at the essentials that students need and how their prices have changed over time.

Food: Prices of food have been on the rise with ordinary food items gradually getting out of the reach of the common man. In Nigeria, many who “made it” always have a tale or two to tell about how they survived on Garri since they barely had any money. Sorry to break the news to those currently living their own grass to grace story; Garri is no longer cheap.

As per the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics NBS 2019 price watch, a kg of Garri sold for N145.3 in June 2019. In February 2024, the average price of 1kg of Garri white, sold loose rose by 109.16% on a year-on-year basis from N345.88 in February 2023 to N723.45 in February 2024.

This means the price of Garri increased by about 700% in five short years. If you think it was only Garri that was singled out for the hit then you are wrong.

Beans, the main constituent of the student favourite “ewa ati bread” increased from around N382/kg in 2019 to N1,177 in February 2024. Did I mention that a loaf of bread increased almost 500% in that same time period?

Transportation: As per NBS, in February 2019, the average bus fare paid for intercity commuting reduced by 12.45% to around N1541. In January 2024, commuting fares had increased to N7577 for the same trip.

This is an almost 600% price increase. Maybe this explains why the tricycle ride from the school gate to your department increased from N100 in your 100L days to N350 now that you are in your finals. Transportation costs for returning back home

Clothing: The prices of clothing have almost gone out of reach for the average student. A pair of stock jeans that could be bought for around N5000 or N4000 if you know how to bargain properly costs as high as N25000 these days. On the Jumia online retailer, a quick search for stock jeans shows prices between N15000 and N40000.

Rent: It is common knowledge that government provided lodging accommodations in most Nigerian schools can not cater to all admitted students. Most students turn to off-campus aka off-k apartments for their accommodation needs.

On Property Pro, a home listing website, houses close to the University of Lagos campus cost between N300000 to N50000 per annum. This is almost ten times the country’s minimum wage.

Printing Paper: From course materials to assignments and projects, students print a lot of paper every semester. An 80gms Double A copy paper now costs around N45000 on Jumia.

During my undergraduate days, the cost of printing per page was around N4/page. I was rather shocked to find out that printing has gone up to as high as N20/page. This means a 100 page course material that would cost me N400 circa 2012 costs N2000 now.

Sanitary pads: A 2019 BBC publication lamented the increase in the prices of sanitary pads; they cost around N300 at the time. In April 2024, a Vanguard market survey showed that average sanitary pads cost around N850. Sanitary pads have increased by more than 250%.