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5 Ways College Students Can Save Money This Fall

August 17, 2015

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College can be expensive, but there are still ways to save money! Here are 5 ways you can save money this fall in college via @shoeaholicnomore

There’s no getting around it. College is expensive. The average American college student now graduates with $30,000 of student loans.  Not only do these college students have tuition to pay, but they also need money to pay for rent or dorm fees, textbooks, food, and general living expenses.

Graduation from college should be an exciting time. Because of student loan debt however, graduation ends up being really stressful for many new grads. Since the debt repayment clock starts ticking the moment you’re handed your degree, you should use your college years as productively and frugally as possible to minimize your need for student loans.

Every dollar saved or earned throughout the school year is a dollar not racked up in student loan debt. Use these 5 ways to try to save money this fall when you head back to college.

Look for Used or Cheap Dorm Supplies

A few of the items that college students typically look for when getting ready for campus living are mini-fridges, bookshelves, lamps, and bicycles, among other things. Save yourself money by looking for those items used, instead of buying them new. Most of the items needed for college living are easily found for much lower prices on Craigslist or at yard sales.

Rent Your Course Books

College textbook prices can easily soar above $500 per semester. Instead of paying full price for a brand new book or even half price for used, save up to 90% of the cost by renting. Unless it’s a book that you plan on referencing for the rest of college or your professional career, it really just isn’t worth it to buy your books. BookRenter and Amazon Textbook Renter are two popular sites for renting the necessary course books for college classes.

Apply for a Campus Job

Apply for a campus job so that you will have more money to put towards tuition. By working through college you won’t have to rely as heavily on student loans to finish your degree. Campus jobs are an especially great way to earn money, since your employer will work your job schedule around your course schedule.

When looking for a college campus job, take advantage of your campus’s career resource center and talk to a counselor. They can help you learn to write a professional resume as well as help you to apply for any of the listed jobs on campus. Campus Job is also a great website for searching through job listings to find a campus job that’s right for you.

Apply to be a Resident Assistant

Another great way to save money at college is to apply for a position as a resident assistant (RA) of a dormitory. Most colleges have open RA positions that you can apply for to receive either discounted dorm fees, a stipend, or in some cases even both.

If you are hired as an RA you will have certain responsibilities and duties to perform in lieu of your reduced rate or stipend. Some of those jobs may include assisting with check-in on move-in day, sitting on RA duty to help other dormitory residents throughout the school year, and helping with check-out at the end of the year.

Besides saving money on your dormitory fee and/or earning a stipend, another perk is that college students can list being an RA on their job applications once finished with school.

Use Coupon Apps to Save Money on Everyday Purchases

A large portion of your budget in college will go towards food spending, especially if you live off campus. Don’t plan on living a cliché and surviving off of Ramen noodles for the whole four years. When spending money on food, drinks, and everyday purchases, use a coupon app that serves you by both saving money and giving you cash back on your purchases. Ibotta: The Cash Back App, Checkout 51, and Snap by Groupon are three great apps that save you money with coupons as well as giving you cash back on your everyday purchases.  

Make the most of your money

College is expensive enough without adding unnecessary spending into an already tight budget. Let your money work harder for you through your college years by making smart money decisions. Try to make do with used items when possible, rent your books instead of buying them, and be smart about everyday purchases. Every dollar saved through college is one less dollar you’ll have to struggle to pay off in loans once you graduate.

What money saving choices are you making as a college student? If you already have your degree, did you use any of these ways to save money in college?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and Shoeaholic No More*

College can be expensive, but there are still ways to save money! Here are 5 ways you can save money this fall in college via @shoeaholicnomore

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Kristi Muse

Kristi Muse is a freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and millennial mom to two beautiful children. She loves homeschooling, organic gardening, sustainable living, and cooking from scratch. To hire Kristi as a freelance writer or to read more about how she lives a balanced life, visit her website or follow her on twitter @moderatemuse.

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15 responses to “5 Ways College Students Can Save Money This Fall

  1. These are great ideas. I was lucky to graduate college (not grad school, though) without loans, but I’m pretty confident that my daughter will need some.

    I also work in a college career center, and working in college – and being an RA, especially – is great for building one’s resume!

    1. The career center is a hidden gem on any campus. I feel like not enough students take advantage of the services they offer.

  2. I feel like this should be taped up in dorm rooms across the country. I did almost all of these (I would have been the worst RA – I went to bed far too early to deal with all the late-night shenanigans), but I watched two different roommates get themselves in hot water by doing virtually none of these things. Great post!

    1. I wish I could have taken advantage of being an RA myself, but due to transferring schools and then doing study abroad, I never did qualify. I did work a campus job all through college though.

    1. Ha! Yes, also great advice. I was never really a drinker since I was such a young college student. I didn’t turn 21 until my senior year of school.

  3. College is such an exciting time but it can also be an expensive time too. Sadly, most kids don’t realize how the debt they are creating will affect them until it’s too late. These are great tips, Kayla. I also suggest when looking for dorm supplies to buy them the summer before – when people are graduating and no longer needing the supplies. They would rather make a few bucks than pay to ship those items back home or to store them. Getting a job is key. It’s good experience and decreases your need for student loan money. Another thing I remind both students (and their parents) is to apply for scholarships, and not just your freshmen year either. Scholarships can make a huge difference and many communities offer smaller local scholarships. They won’t pay your entire bill, but they also tend to be easier to win due to less competition.

    1. That’s a great point, Shannon! Many college students don’t realize that they can continue to apply for scholarships once they are accepted into a school. And you’re absolutely right about looking for supplies the summer before. Students moving off of campus and into their first real apartments don’t always want to take their dorm things with them.

  4. After the semester, I sold my books or have it rented to my close friends. But, I kept some of it because some were related to my major subjects and I would still need those for my prerequisite subjects. My college life was really challenging and fun at the same time. It mostly taught me personal and finance management.

    1. I sold back a good number of my books, but I also kept quite a few as well. Ones I did keep were great reference books or useful for research projects.

      I agree, college is both challenging and an amazing experience!

  5. Student loans are certainly ruining the futures of many people. Anything we can do to encourage teens to save for college, live below their means and find other ways to pay for their education, it will be worth it. Co-ops are great if you can find one in your study area, you may even have a job waiting for you upon graduation. If you are applying to graduate school, apply for a teaching assistantship and you could get paid to teach a few undergraduate courses. That too looks great on your resume.

    Great article!


  6. So agree with trying to get secondhand dorm items. There seems to be this crazy culture of buying tons of new stuff each and every year you go to college. Quite often you will have plenty of things (i.e. bedding) from living at home.

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