5 Ways College and Graduate Students Can Save Money

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The costs of attending college, especially when combined with graduate school, can very quickly add up to become an overwhelmingly stressful expense. College costs also include regular costs of living, such as food, transportation, social activities, and other miscellaneous expenses. This can easily put a strain on your wallet and overall financial situation if you don’t budget carefully.

In addition to keeping track of your expenses with a budget, there are several things that students can do throughout the school year to cut spending. And they can do this while still enjoying all of the experiences that come with being a student. Keep reading to learn about 5 ways college and graduate students can save money.

1. Utilize Free Campus Resources before Looking Outwards

Unbeknownst to many, your college campus likely has a sizable list of resources and services that are discounted or free for you to use. You already pay for them each semester through your tuition and fees.

A few of the most underrated campus resources include mental health counseling, fitness centers and gyms, and tutors. Luckily, these all happen to be services that tend to run on the more expensive side if you were to seek them out through external sources. So, before you sign up for that workout class or pay for yet another math tutor, take a look at services like these that you may already be paying for first!

Say you enjoy being social and participating in activities outside of class hours. However, you’re worried about stretching your budget too thin. Look into activities and events that are happening on your campus. Schools of all sizes generally do a good job of putting on movie nights and concerts to help bring students together. These types of activities, in conjunction with things going on among student organizations that you might be a part of, can quickly come together to give you a busy and thriving social schedule. And they can help you save money along the way.

Unsure of where to look? To start to take advantage of campus resources and events, a simple Google search of “insert school name + campus resources” should give you a solid starting point for saving money in some key areas.

2. Cut Out or Split Subscriptions Where You Can

Nowadays, there are so many apps, gadgets, and websites offering subscriptions and sneaky free trials. It’s unfortunately all too easy to get caught up in the madness and not even realize what you’re paying for. 

If you have apps on your phone that you know you currently pay for on a regular basis, you can go into your phone’s settings to identify them once and for all, and cancel the ones that you no longer want or use. As for websites and services, take a look at your debit or credit card bill at the end of a month, go through all of the charges and take note of what you’re paying for and how much it costs per month. 

If you live with friends or roommates, an additional way you can save some cash is by pooling together and splitting subscriptions for websites such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. You can either split it up so each person pays for one service and you all share them, or you all split the cost of each one. There are options, so find the one that works best for you! 

3. Apply for Scholarships

Another great way that students can save money (particularly on their tuition and fees) is by applying for scholarships. The great thing about scholarships is that, unlike loans, they don’t need to be repaid. 

There are many different types of scholarships out there. Some are worth tens of thousands of dollars, and others are worth a few hundred. Some are easy to apply for, while others (the majority) have more in-depth application requirements, such as recommendation letters, written submissions, videos, transcripts, and more. 

When it comes to finding scholarships to apply for, you can start by heading over to your school’s website to get to your scholarship page or portal; this is the place where all university-specific scholarships will be posted. The other common source for finding scholarships is search engines and scholarship databases. Through these outlets, you can get creative with the search terms and criteria that you enter, to ultimately find scholarships that are the best match for you. 

4. Rent Your Textbooks

Considering most college and graduate school classes last only one semester, buying your textbooks can be a seriously costly (and unnecessary) use of your money. So, rather than throwing all of that money into buying books, look into the rental options that are available to you. 

Some colleges and universities have their own services that allow you to rent textbooks. If they don’t, you can often find most textbooks that you would need in your school’s library. The only downside to using the library for your books is that they may have to be renewed often, which could turn into a hassle. 

Going back to the rental option, if your school doesn’t offer a cost-effective rental service, you can check out websites such as Amazon and Chegg. When I was in college, I was able to rent all of my textbooks each semester for the regular sticker cost of about one and a half books. So, if you opt to rent, you can count on saving some money! 

5. Cook More, Eat Out Less

Between juggling your classes, extracurriculars, and maybe even a part-time job or two, the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day is worry about cooking your next meal. However, making a point to eat out or order in less can certainly decrease the size of the dent in your wallet!

When it comes to cooking at home, one thing you’ll want to do to help you get started (or get better at it) is meal plan. At the beginning of each week, sit down and write out a day-by-day plan of all of the meals that you want to cook and the ingredients that go into each. By planning out your meals, you can save money by wasting less food, and increase your overall efficiency by spending less time standing around the grocery store staring at the shelves.

If you’re the type of person who truly loves to eat out, and you don’t want to fully cut it from your spending, don’t worry, I’ve got you! There are ways that you can eat out and still save money. You can eat at restaurants on or around campus that offer student discounts (hint: lots of the chain restaurants do!). 

Another suggestion for saving money this way is to download and use anti-wasting food apps, such as Too Good to Go, Olio, and Foodfully. While these apps don’t all operate in all areas of the country, they are expanding rapidly. So, if you’re looking to enjoy good meals without breaking your wallet, download one and give it a try!

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