10 Money-Saving Tips to Try in College 

If you want to cut costs in college – without cramping your lifestyle – try these money-saving tips. Be sure to read the whole list. It’s a blend of tried and true, old and new and some creative hacks and apps that can help you be wise with money and still have fun! Also, press play on our “Ask Adam” video where our partner, Adam Carroll, talks about how college students can be more wise with money.

1. App it!

There are tons of apps that can help you be wise with money while you’re in college. Some examples:

  • Qapital: This mobile banking app helps you save money by rounding up your transactions to the nearest dollar and putting the money into an FDIC-insured account. (Just connect your checking account to the app.) 
  • Honey: This app works like a browser extension on all your devices, looking for the best coupon codes to save you money. Savings appear when you go to check out. 
  • Five Apps to Save You Cash: This article includes a few more apps worth considering.

2. Compare housing and meal package options.

  • Talk with upperclassmen and women who’ve been in your shoes and are familiar with the ins and outs of different housing packages. They may be able to point you in the direction of some great deals.
  • If you won’t be eating every meal on campus, consider a partial meal plan.
  • If you plan to live off campus:
    • Look at apartments with fewer amenities – which typically translates into lower rent.
    • Get multiple roommates so you can share costs.

3. Become a resident advisor.

Most resident advisors (RAs) receive free room and board in exchange for enforcing dorm rules, helping foster student relationships and performing other responsibilities. (Becoming an RA also gives you the opportunity to build resume-worthy experience!)

4. Use your student discounts.

Take advantage of discounts that often come with your student ID. A few examples:

  • Check with Student Services before you make a technology purchase to see if there may be recommended vendors who offer student discounts.
  • Using your campus email address when making an online purchase may help you score a discount from technology and other manufacturers.

5. Know your deadlines.

Understand your school’s policies about dropping, adding and withdrawing from classes. If you want to withdraw from a class, you’ll need to do so before a certain date to receive a full or partial refund.

6. Visit your financial aid office.

  • It’s a good way to stay on top of scholarships, work study and other forms of financial aid and learn when the best time is to apply for grants and loans.
  • The bursar can help you negotiate a payment plan that may help you avoid unnecessary costs as well as advise you of deadlines for payments and refunds.

7. Apply for scholarships.

Just because you started college doesn’t mean you should stop applying for scholarships:

  • Throughout the year, check to what types of scholarships are being offered. Online Scholarship Search tools make it easy to do.
  • Reminder: If you already received a scholarship, check to see if you need to renew it every semester or every year.

8. Be credit smart.

  • If you plan to use a credit card, shop around to find one with the lowest possible rate and no annual fees. If it offers cash-back rewards, use the money to help pay for necessities, like groceries.
  • Keep the card at home (in a safe place) so you’re not tempted to buy things you want (vs. things you need).
  • Make payments on time to avoid late fees – and always pay off the balance each month to avoid interest charges.

9. Have fun with no ‘mon.’

A few examples:

  • Monopoly, LIFE, TROUBLE … check out the thrift shops for retro board games and have a game night with friends. Everyone can bring a snack to share.
  • Share your time and talents to help a cause you care about. It’s a great way to make an impact, meet new people and have fun, too.
  • Take advantage of free or inexpensive resources on campus, like the health center, gym, fitness classes and sports events.

10. Take online classes through Lumerit

Lumerit.com offers college credit courses online. Taking classes this way can help save you money and allow you to fit classes within your schedule. You can earn up to three years’ worth of college credits through Lumerit, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

Still looking for other money saving ideas? Check out our #CrushingIt page for inspiration – and share how you’re #CrushingIt!


For more great content like this, check out our State of Student Debt page with content from our partner Adam Carroll.


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