CWU Student Price Index



Zachary Dowdy, Kaylee Coooper

Faculty Mentor(s)

Tennecia Dacass (Economics)


This project aims to develop a price index of the cost of college living in Ellensburg. To be consistent with the information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the U.S., but more representative of CWU students’ cost of living, we administered a student expenditure survey to collect information on the expenditures and purchasing habits of the average student on the Ellensburg campus. This data provided the weights for the basket of goods purchased during a typical month. We then collected prices of the items in the basket from various stores in Ellensburg to calculate the first measure of inflation. This index’s key strength is its applicability to students who are known to have different spending profiles than the average U.S. consumer. For example, we find that 42% of the typical student’s monthly expenditure is spent on housing relative to the 33% reported by the BLS. Our initial findings reveal that the SPI decreased by 0.2 percent in February 2021 relative to the preceding month. The results from this study and future updates are expected to provide useful insights regarding students’ cost of living, which is of immense relevance to university administrators and current and prospective students. This ongoing project should also guide the university administration regarding housing, tuition, and student wage.



1 thought on “CWU Student Price Index”

  1. Great presentation! You very clearly presented the idea, your calculations, statistical analysis and the conclusion. Data collection clearly took plenty of work, and I’m happy to see how well done this research project turned out.

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