NYU Journalism Grad Student Resorting to Food Stamps

2704951513_15db242ef1This bodes well for those of us who loiter around 20 Cooper Square. The New York Times’ City Room blogDark floors download.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/in-school-in-debt-and-asking-for-help/”> published a recession profile on Ryan McLendon, an NYU journalism grad student and new applicant for food stamps in Williamsburg.

Turning vegetarian, taking advantage of every free food event on campus and generally eating less than he’d prefer are some of the ways McLendon attempts to curtail his $95,000 of college debt. With graduation looming at the end of the semester, McLendon’s employment prospects appear bleak. He said he’ll probably end up as a server till he finds a steady writing job. His monthly expenses amount to around $1500, though he’s only earned an average of $450 per month as a freelance writer this year.

It is unfair and terrifying that a fellow student, with a degree supposedly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, has to get by on food stamps that he waited seven hours in line just to apply for. The fear of ending up in McLendon’s situation is what has NYU journalism students contemplating LSAT classes amongst other acceptable alternatives to starvation.

Photo from Flickr user Pengrin under the Creative Commons License.

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    14 Comments

  1. Michael Ronan says

    I really wish I wasn’t working on a journalism assignment as I’m reading this. That’s just bad timing.

  2. Kaela Rae Jensen says

    Where are his parents, number one. Number two, $1500 per month is a lot of money, even considering rent, so it seems like he didn’t have to resort to food stamps, maybe he should have just re-evaluated his budget. He said himself there were other people there who needed it more…call me cold-hearted if you will.

  3. Annie Costa says

    Regardless of whether he should rethink his budget, the real concern is that he is making $450 per month and has $95,000 of loans. It is really deterring for anyone considering grad school. We’ve always been told that working hard and getting a great education will pay off but in the current economy going to grad school seems to actually make life harder. At least if you’re talking J-school.

  4. says

    Just want to emphasize that $450 is what he has earned on average so far this year from freelancing. That is not say he’ll definitely earn another $450 this month (or that he won’t earn another $1000 if he get s a good gig).

    As for his parents, his Dad does not contribute and his mother hardly has enough to support herself (according to the video piece that goes along with the City Room post).

  5. Todd Selby says

    First of all, there are plenty of places in Brooklyn for $500-600 a month. Yeah, they’re shitty, but it beats “starving” yourself. Second of all, you should know as a writer that you’ll have to get another job at first. That’s how it works, man. I want to be a musician, but the hell if I’ll quit my day job before I actually (if ever) make decent money off gigs.

    $1500 a month and starving? You’re doing it wrong.

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