Ah, college! The land of growing minds, networking marathons, the occasional (or more than occasional) party, and endless amount of debt. The lucky individuals who get out of college debt-free are like unicorns – magical, mysterious, and so scarce you’d swear they didn’t exist at all. While you might not be able to avoid payments or student loans completely, the good news is that there are certainly some tricks that can lower your expenses tremendously!
Use these 9 tips to keep some extra cash in your pocket through college!
Apply for Scholarships Throughout College – They aren’t just for high schoolers! Plenty of scholarships are available to current college students. Your college or university is likely to give out its own, and you can likely get scholarships from your department. Some universities even offer a scholarship for transfer students for each year they return to the school until graduation. Many local businesses also offer scholarships, and you’ll find less competition with them than with national scholarship competitions.
Take Advantage of the Freebies – College is full of giveaways. Free t-shirts from guest speakers, free tumblers during homecoming week, free food if you put your email address on that list…the freebie possibilities are quite literally endless. Take advantage of them, and enjoy the savings that come along!
Be a Student Discount Fiend – Student discounts are more common than you might think and can really add up in the long run. If you know you’re going to the mall, call the stores you want to shop at and check if they offer a student discount. The savings don’t stop at the mall, though. You can get Amazon Prime (which comes with free 2-day shipping, discounted textbooks, countless TV shows and movies, and lots, lots more.) for free for several months, and then pay half as much as non-students to keep your subscription going.
Find Part Time Jobs Through School – Making some extra money during college can really make a difference between enjoying a movie or meal out here and there and living like a hermit on a diet solely consisting of ramen noodles and water. Odds are you wouldn’t even have to leave campus to find a decent part time job. Students commonly work as residential advisors (and enjoy free room and board for their work), desk attendants, IT support, dining hall staff, web developers, department attendants, and teacher’s aids, just to name a few. These jobs are not only good for the extra cash, but are great for making connections and building work experience.
Avoid Buying Textbooks From the Bookstore – Those things are expensive. They can be hundreds of dollars – each – and easily cost a student upwards of $1,000. Use Amazon or ask older students to see if you can get used books at a discount. Companies like Chegg will rent books to you for the semester and even provide a box to mail the book back in and an electronic copy of the book until your hard copy arrives. If all else fails, your bookstore probably offers rentals for a fraction of the purchasing price.
Live Off Campus – Dorm life may be fun, but it’s also insanely expensive. You can easily find an apartment for half the price of a private college dorm (even less if you opt for roommates!), and cooking your own food in your own home cuts down on fast food and restaurant expenses as well as wasted meals from your meal plan. Having said that…
Choose Your Meal Plan Carefully – You do not need 3 paid meals a day. You might not even need 2 paid meals a day, and if you do finish the year with leftover meals, there’s no getting that money back. Remember that you won’t be eating every meal in the dining halls. When you do choose a meal plan and head for the dining hall, get your fill if it’s all you can eat, and be sure to ask if you can take food with you to keep in the fridge for later.
Make Your Own Coffee – No, really. Kicking your Starbucks habit can save you an amazing amount of cash. If you spend about $20 a week at Starbucks, you could save almost $1,000 in a year if you opt for making your own homebrewed cup of Joe in the morning. Sure, that $5 vanilla latte is delicious and energizing, but we guarantee you can make one just as good for a fraction of the price.
Finish Early – Going to college for 4 years isn’t required. You can finish early – and plenty of people do. Cut down on the semesters you have to pay for by “double dipping” with classes that can fulfill multiple requirements, stocking up on AP credit, asking to take classes concurrently with their prerequisites, and substituting required classes with accelerated internships, which can sometimes get you up to 9 credit hours in the time you’d usually get 3 from a normal class.
Whether you’re taking classes to supplement your job, getting your general requirements at community college, or peer-reviewing your way to your PhD, these little hints are sure to keep extra money in your pocket.
Got any tried-and-true money saving advice of your own? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!