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5 Surprisingly Easy Ways Students Can Save Money Throughout College in 2024

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4 hands holding money.

Almost every college student asks themself the daunting question, “How will I pay for this?” Even worse, many students question how they will pay for college, additional expenses, like an off-campus apartment and food, as well as have money saved for their life after graduation.

It’s no secret that American universities are costly, and the majority of students can’t afford multiple years without some financial assistance. Even with years of savings, it can be close to impossible to afford the steep college tuition and other fees.

A view of a few buildings on a college campus.

Leaving college with some sort of savings built up is crucial, especially if there is no guaranteed job for you post-graduation. Fortunately, there are several ways to conserve money through college, even when it feels like every penny is going straight toward your education.

These are 5 ways you can save money throughout college:

1) Use what you pay for

College students, freshmen especially, have access to a plethora of resources that they oftentimes forget all about. Many universities offer free health services to enrolled students, such as counseling and therapy for students in need of someone to talk to. Additionally, there are often multiple departments in place to help students through emotional and personal crises.

Universities with their own hospitals and health care systems often make those services available to students for little or no cost. When it’s time to make appointments or have a regular check-up, your university’s health care system can be an excellent way to save money while staying up to date on your health.

Bookshelves filled with books.

Additionally, students pay thousands of dollars for access to all sorts of educational materials, including on-campus libraries and even their professors’ time.

Rather than spending money to subscribe to online encyclopedias and question forums, students have the opportunity to utilize their university’s access to a surplus of information, both in physical books and online. With this comes weekly office hours for students to meet with professors and instructors.

The faculty at your college want to help you, so be sure to reach out and ask questions rather than wasting time and money finding vague answers elsewhere.

2) Eat in, not out

Most college freshmen have a dining plan, though not all students take complete advantage of it. It can be all too easy to head out for the night and grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant or swing by your favorite coffee shop every morning. Sometimes, there might even be a special occasion that calls for a night out with friends.

There is always reason enough to treat yourself, but students should enter college prepared to put certain limits on how much is too much.

With a traditional dining plan, students can get three meals, sometimes more, a day. While meal plans are still quite expensive once added onto your university bill, they can easily be taken advantage of so that you get your money’s worth by semester’s end.

A container of food, soup, and a menu next to some books.

Not only that, but utilizing this dining plan ensures you don’t spend money needlessly on eating out or having food delivered. While it might not seem like a hefty expense, ordering food quickly adds up, and students will see that reflected after several months of this.

3) Find other ways to get your textbooks

Textbooks are a critical aspect of the college learning process, and nearly every class has at least one required text to read from. Some books can be relatively cheap depending on their size and content, but others can range from 100 to 200 dollars.

A container of school books.

In the digital age, students and universities have gotten creative with the use of textbooks. Some websites provide a surplus of online books to students free of charge, while others offer links to cheaper retail sites or access to brief sections of these books for no cost.

Many students often forget to check before buying their textbooks at full cost, but many universities offer students the chance to rent their textbooks. This is a fantastic way to save money, and it can be especially helpful when fulfilling general education requirements and other classes that might not necessarily remain relevant to students beyond their first year or two at university.

4) Get creative with your transportation

Most college campuses are designed across a very close proximity, with most campus buildings being within a short walk of each other. However, some stray buildings might be scattered around the outskirts of campus, creating an inconvenience for students who have to make it there on time for classes.

A yellow bus in a parking lot.

In larger urban areas, many students might default to using Uber or Lyft to navigate their wide campuses. What many students fail to realize is that there are multiple bus routes offered by their universities for free, with buses running as regularly as fifteen to twenty minutes.

Rather than spending several dollars on Uber, Lyft, or inner city taxis, students can utilize their campus resources for transportation.

Additionally, college campuses are often designed for maneuverability, so there is always extra walking space, and even room for bicycling, skateboarding, or roller skating for those students who choose to bring their equipment to campus.

5) Find Inexpensive Ways to Have Fun

Part of every college experience are the memories, and they happen in countless mediums, whether they are spontaneous or planned well in advance. Some might be costly, but others can be cheap or even free if you know what to do and where to look.

The college lifestyle has led to booming communities that thrive on the flow of money from students during the academic year, with restaurants and bars popping up all over college towns. However, there are still plenty of ways to go out and have fun without spending large sums of money.

Student organizations or intramurals are a great starting point to make friends and find fun activities to participate in.

Many student organizations will often host events on weekends, and recreational sporting teams have games all week long. Even outside of organized events, students can find public basketball courts and soccer fields in local parks.

Depending on where your university is located, there can also be a plethora of sights to see, whether it be monuments, downtown murals, and so much more. Some college campuses are even located near fantastic hiking trails, which can offer gorgeous views and easy access to engage with nature.

Two people hiking in the mountains.

Developing proper savings and spending habits will only serve to boost your opportunities, and students can still have fun while doing it.

Regardless of how you do it, saving money through college is crucial for preparing for life after. There are countless ways to do it, even if it means keeping a close eye on every transaction.

No matter what, college is an unforgettable time in every student’s life, and it can lead to so many opportunities beyond your education.