21 Creative Ways to Save Money While in College

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

College can be expensive but there ARE actually many ways to save money while you're in school. This article highlights multiple tips and resources for you to save money while you're in college.

1. Leverage Work Study

Take the full Work Study option with your financial aid package. Colleges have numerous part-time jobs on campus to support work study programs. Take advantage of this option to make some money at a job that is directly on campus with hours that work well with your class schedule. The amount of money you can make each year through work study depends on your specific financial aid package. For more details about Work Study, check out StudentAid.gov.

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2. Work in Food Service

Continuing from tip #1, take a work study job in food service! This is a bonus because you usually get a free or discounted meal during your shift! You'll make some money AND save money on your food bill. For every free meal you get through your job, you could save $5-$10! Over the course of one school year, if you work 3 shifts per week over 40 weeks, that could amount to $600-$1,200 in savings!

3. Buy Used

Buy used whenever possible. This is especially important when it comes to textbooks. I understand that often times, the professors will require new versions of textbooks so it may be difficult to accomplish this for all classes but you should check into it anyway. Examples of items to buy used include:

* Textbooks!

* Computer/Laptop (refurbished)

* Dishes

* Clothes

* Shoes

* Vehicle

* Furniture

* Backpack

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4. Share!

Share anything and everything you can. The biggest way to share expenses is to make sure you always have a roommate to share the costs of housing, utilities, etc. Some other examples of shareable items in college include:

* Housing

* Meals/Groceries

* Utility bills

* Vehicle

* Books

* Computer

* Printer

* Clothes

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5. Leverage School Activities

Leverage any and all free or discounted school-sponsored activities! Movie night in the common area? Discounted tickets to a museum? Sign us up!

6. Take Classes at a Different School

Many colleges have a relationship with other colleges where students can take courses at the other locations while staying enrolled and receiving a degree from the primary institution. It could be possible to save money by attending a college that has lower tuition but that allows you to take some courses from a participating college that has a higher tuition rate.

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7. Apply for Scholarships

Scholarship applications aren't just available before you get to college, there are usually many opportunities available while you're in school. Often times, specific departments will have scholarships for students majoring in that area of study.

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8. Use Your Student ID

Don't leave home without your student ID! It is common for businesses in the same community as a college to offer discounts on products or services for students if they show their ID. Sweet!

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9. Hang out in the Library

Libraries are GREAT resources! Not only will they have books freely available, they will have computer and printing resources and so much more. Consider it a great place to study, print your resume, research your school projects and papers, and more.

10. Don't Use a Car

Invest in a (used) bicycle or good walking shoes for your school commute if possible. Cars can include high costs due to parking passes, gas and maintenance, and insurance. Leverage public transportation and ride share! Even better, many campuses offer free shuttle services between parts of campus for students.

11. Explore Test-Out Options for Courses

In some cases, you can test out of a course or set of required courses based on your previous classes. A common example of this is when high school students take Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school in subjects including Math and English. Based on the AP curriculum, many colleges will waive the requirement for those students to have to take the introductory courses. Another common test-out option is regarding language courses. If you can prove your understanding of a 2nd language, you may be able to test out of taking one or more courses while in college. Depending on where you go to college, this option can save you thousands of dollars by avoiding to take one or more courses!

12. Take Volunteer Trips Rather Than Spring Break Trips

This tip may not actually save you money but is a great option to build experience volunteering while also spending time in a different location - city, state, or country! The experience you gain during a service trip can also be highlighted on your resume and job applications!

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13. Try to Fix it Before You Toss it

Take care of your possessions and make sure to try and fix things first when they're broken. If something truly is beyond repair, then try to recycle or get rid of it. For most items, it will be cheaper to fix than to buy brand new. Even some basic sewing skills can save you hundreds of dollars in saving your clothes.

14. Don't Fail Classes

This tip may seem obvious but there many students who do end up failing courses and then need to pay again to re-take them. Save money by making sure you pass each of your classes. A 4-credit course at a private university can cost around $4,000! That's a lot of money wasted if you have to re-take the course. If you're struggling to keep up or understand the material, reach out to your professor and teacher aides as soon as possible to get additional help. If needed, look into the option of dropping the course without financial penalty. There is usually a short time at the beginning of the semester during which you can do this.

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15. Fully Utilize Your Meal Plan

When you're paying for a meal plan, you should use it! The more that you purchase meals and snacks outside of your meal plan, the more money you're wasting. Plan ahead to determine the best fit meal plan for you.

16. Use the Campus Gym

Why pay for a gym membership when you may have access to similar resources for FREE and right on campus! If there is a fee to access the campus gym, compare it with the area private gym fees to determine which is the best value.

17. Make a Plan to Graduate in Four Years

Make a plan now for how you can complete your coursework and graduate in four years. Additional semesters will not only mean additional expenses for you but a longer time before you can start working full-time and paying off any college loan debt!

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18. Re-Sell Your Books

After your course is complete, try to re-sell your books. Unless you want to keep the books as a reference in the future, you could make some money back by selling them. Although your campus bookstore may buy back books, you may be able to get a better deal when selling directly to other students.

19. Open a Savings Account with Interest

While you may not be making a lot of money while you're studying, you can still collect some interest on your savings while you're in school. Look for a savings account without any ongoing fees and find one that provides interest.

20. Consider Becoming a Resident Advisor

A Resident Advisor (RA) receives discounted or free housing in exchange for being the primary contact and leader for a number of student residents. While there is a lot of work involved in the RA position, the cost savings could be worth it! Even just one year working as an RA could save $10,000 or more at many schools.

21. Make a Budget

While this tip may not directly save you money, it WILL help you see your income versus expenses. With that information, you can make a better plan where to cut expenses or grow your income to support your needs. Starting a basic budget now will help you get into a good pattern of spending within your means. And that will help you save in the long run.

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In summary, there are many ways for you to explore saving money while you're in college. These tips may not give you a free ride but they can certainly make a difference in your pocket book!

Next Step:

* Pick several of these tips and use them!

* Share this article with your fellow students and brainstorm other ways you all could save money!

Also Read:

* Dress for Career Success for Less

* Don't Go Broke Looking for a Job

* 5 Books for Money-Saving Ideas

Stay tuned for more advice and tips from That Purple Book! Connect with That Purple Book across social media @ThatPurpleBook

Connect with me at Sarah@ThatPurpleBook.com with questions.

Got feedback? Share it with me!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. This means if you make a purchase via my affiliate links, I will be paid a small commission at no extra charge to you.

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