How to Save Money as a College Student
Money can be tight when you’re in college. Whether you are going to an ivy league school or a small community or public college, chances are you’re trying to figure out how to save money as a college student so that you can keep your student loan debt to a minimum and survive on a part-time income. As a college student myself, here are some of the most helpful ways I’ve found to save money in college.
Here's how to save money as a college student…
Shop Around for Textbooks
Do your research before buying your textbooks. First, check with your college library to see if you can check them out for the semester. Next, check your campus buy/sell/trade groups to see if you can buy a used textbook. If not, your options are to buy new or rent.
Make sure you shop around to see if it’s cheaper to rent or buy, and where you can get your textbooks at the cheapest price. Your campus bookstore may not be the cheapest place to buy or rent your textbooks. Check online bookstores and retailers, such as Amazon.com’s textbook rental service.
Tip: If you don’t need a physical copy, some textbooks are available online as a free PDF download. Just do a google search to see if this is an option for you.
Being a student may get you some extra discounts when you present your student ID. Get in the habit of asking if there is a student discount whenever you are shopping, going out to eat, going to the movies, and more.
You could save on clothing, movie and concert tickets, hotels, train and bus tickets, and even electronics purchases. Check out this list of student discounts for more on how to save money as a college student.
Save on Transportation
Save the gas in your car for longer car trips. Explore other options for getting around town and campus. If you can, walk, ride a bike, or take the bus. Resist the urge to taxi around your friends, as well.
A ride once in a while for a good friend is okay, but always giving free rides to people is not a good idea when you’re on a tight budget.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Make sure you are getting all of the financial aid and scholarships that you’re eligible for. If you’re not sure, make an appointment to visit with your financial advisor. Ask if there is any other aid that you may qualify for and how to apply for it.
Financial advisors want to make college affordable for you and help you to succeed, so take advantage of their free advice.
Only Borrow What You Need
Don’t take out more loans than you need to cover your education. If you found out that you borrowed more money than is needed to pay for your books, room and board, and tuition, contact your financial aid office about adjusting your loan amount.
There is usually a grace period where you can “return” part of the money that you borrowed without accruing interest. If you’re stuck borrowing more money than you need, don’t spend it. Pay off some of the loan ahead of time or keep that money in a savings account.
Get Good Grades
Students with good grades usually have more opportunities for academic scholarships and other financial offerings. For instance, some students in good academic standing are eligible to have part or all of their tuition paid for by various graduate programs.
Colleges want the most motivated students to continue to be able to afford their education.
Get a Part Time Job
Many students choose to work a part time job while they go to school. It’s a great way to earn a little bit of income while still focusing on your education. Trying to figure out how to save money as a college student is hard enough when you don't have any income. Most colleges have a limited number of positions available on campus for students.
If you can’t get a job on campus, most college towns are full of part-time positions that are flexible enough for full time college students. You may even be eligible for a federal work study, which lets you earn a little more federal grant money in exchange for working somewhere that will give you job skills related to your degree.
Utilize Free or Cheap Campus Resources
Most college campuses have a number of resources that are only available to staff and students, and usually come at a much cheaper cost. For instance, you can probably get a gym membership on campus for pennies compared to a typical gym membership. Cafeteria and food plans can be very reasonable if planned well.
Other cheap student resources may include reduced cost health care, counseling, medical care, child care, and more. Check with your student center for information on campus resources.
Attend Campus Events for Entertainment
Usually, students get in for free or at a very reduced price when attending events on campus. Instead of going to the movies or a concert out in town, attend a play, concert, or sporting event on campus.
Not only will you be getting cheap entertainment, you’ll also be supporting your fellow students in their endeavors.