Living cost among top concerns in AA county


Philip Van Slooten

Students, like second-year physics student Kenneth Arnold, participated in a student survey on campus.

The high cost of living is the top concern of Anne Arundel County residents, a survey by AACC’s Center for the Study of Local Issues found in April.

Among their other concerns are drug abuse, sexual harassment, police and minority interactions, and low college graduation rates due to rising tuition costs.

Between March 28 and April 5, students at the center surveyed 622 county residents about which local issues they felt were most important.

In a separate, informal poll on campus on April 15, 40 percent of 45 AACC students told Campus Current that rising education costs are their top issue. Twenty-eight percent named a lack of time to spend with family as their most-pressing concern.

“I work full time and I go to school full time,” Nicholas Mitchell, a second-year pre-med student, said. “So time with work versus time with family requires a specific balance, which is very difficult.”

“My family is back in Florida. … I’m trying to get an education here so I can help out,” Khiry Coleman, a third-year culinary art student, said.

Other students agreed it is hard to balance school, work and family life.

“It’s hard for me to pay off the school while also being a student,” second-year cybersecurity student Lyle Wallace said.

Martha Dove, a second-year nursing student, said school feels like her full-time job.

“So, if you’re working and doing the program, you’re taking time away from your family,” she said. “Most of them understand it’s temporary, but you have to do it if you want to be successful.”

Dr. Dan Nataf, a political science professor and the center’s director, said neither the county nor the campus survey results surprised him.

“The general public tends to want lower taxes and higher services but it is labor intensive, like with education,” Nataf said. “This is similar to questions regarding tuition payment and class size. Smaller classes means hiring more professors and that costs money.”

Nataf said one goal of the survey was to try to “assess the nature of the problem and determine what solutions people are willing to accept.”

Nataf said the questions in next year’s survey will depend on the issues of the 2020 presidential election.

“The issues haven’t resolved, the candidates haven’t resolved and I don’t expect them to resolve by the fall,” he said.

Nataf added national issues “aren’t our main focus,” because it is an “off year” for elections.