7 Easy Ways to Save on Your College Expenses

saving money in college

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Have you heard about the freshman fifteen? How about the freshman $15,000?


Maybe, it’s a different number, but chances are that as a college freshman, you’ll be in for quite a shock on the sticker price of items you have to buy for school. 

Your financial package may cover some or all of your tuition, with a small amount for books and a portion of housing expenses. 

Or perhaps you went with a loan to cover all costs. 

In any case, finding ways to cut down on expenses can help you graduate without breaking the bank. The more you can save money on your expenses, the better off you’ll be. 

Here are 7 Ways to Save on Your College Expenses

saving money in college

1- Shop Sales on Electronics during Black Friday

Don’t wait until the summer or right before school starts to shop for your electronics. You may find some discounts during summer, but it’s better to plan ahead so you can grab the biggest discount.

Check out major holiday deals and Black Friday specials as well.  

2- Buy Used Books

buying used books for college

As a student, I always loved having brand new books and stationary to start my year off on the right foot. But, once I entered college, it was a completely different story. 

Buying a new book is such a waste of money, unless you plan on keeping the book to reference for your degree. But, chances are, there will be a new edition with updated information the following year. 

Buying used provides you the same information for a third of the price. 

Used college bookstores are usually located near your college, so ask other students, search online, or go directly to the store. 

Along the same lines of buying used books is to re-sell your books once the class is completed. No use cluttering your space with books you’ll probably never read again. 

3- Bring Your Lunch and Snacks

Speaking of the Freshman 15, you’ve probably heard that freshmen often gain some weight during their first year of college. 

Care to guess why?

It’s usually due to students eating out during their breaks, having study sessions that result in ordering pizza, and coming home beat from a long day of schooling, only to grab an easy meal.

eating out

Eating out on occasion is not horrible, but reducing takeout meals can potentially help you save thousands of dollars in the long run.

When I was a freshman, I got my first $500 credit card. The first purchase I made was a Claim Jumper dinner I had with my friends. 

Within just a 1.5 months, I almost maxed out the credit card just by eating out while I was in school.  

It adds up really fast. 

Bringing your own food, whether you’re commuting or living on campus, can save you a lot of time and money. 

You’ll save an average of $20 per day if you’re counting lunch, a drink and a snack or two. 

That’s $400 per month or $4,800 per year. 

4- Carpool or Public Transportation

buying a used car instead of a new car

Most college campuses charge for parking and, depending on the location of your school, that could be costly. 

At the local university where I work, a monthly parking pass is $89! So, even as a working adult, I take public commuter bus for my commute. It saves money on gas, parking, and wear-and-tear on my car. 

I’m willing to bet that your public transportation is cheaper than your monthly parking cost. 

If you can take public transportation, I suggest you look into it. 

Another option is to carpool with someone. You can split the cost of the parking permit and schools often discount the permit for carpool vehicles. 

The more people that join your carpool, the more savings you can enjoy.  

5- Community College Classes

college classes

I seriously wish I took advantage of this strategy when I was in college. Community colleges are a great place to take your general education classes. 

Often times, they’re free for the freshmen and sophomores or at a much lower cost than a University. 

You also benefit in taking smaller-size classes, so it’s a win-win.

Just be sure that the particular class you sign up for can transfer to your home school as full credit.

6- Get Cash Back on School Supplies

Shopping online for school supplies is convenient and cost effective. You can save even more with Rakuten

Rakuten offers cash back on your purchases. All you have to do is go to the app or the site and click on the store where you want to shop. 

Rakuten calculates your cash back automatically. 

It’s free to sign up and you save money on things you were already planning to buy. 

7- Use Free School Services 

Taking advantage of your school’s free offerings will help you save money in the long run. 

Checking out books from the college library will save you on buying another book. 

Using the college recreation center or gym means you can save on a gym membership. It’s also convenient, since the gym is located on campus. 

Most colleges also offer a student health center, which is much more affordable than going to a traditional doctor’s office. The fee for this service is usually embedded in your tuition fees. 

College is quite expensive, but there are always creative ways to cut costs when you’re mindful of your spending. 

All of the tips mentioned in this article won’t take much of your time. They just give you more options on your everyday college expenses.  

The potential savings is well worth the effort.  

What’s your plan for saving during college?

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