5 Saving Tips From a Starving Student

Photo (cc) by khrawlings

A new school year begins next month at the nation’s 4,400 colleges and universities, following a brutal summer of budget cuts and tuition hikes.

Last month, CNN reported that state universities in 25 states were facing budget cuts of $5 billion. Meanwhile, tuition is rising everywhere – 7.5 percent at Pennsylvania’s 14 state schools, 7.6 percent at tiny Kansas City Kansas Community College, and a whopping 18 percent in the University of California system.

For a little twist of the knife, USA Today reported last week that college presidents in several states – California, Georgia, and Kentucky – are getting raises! “While the budget situation in most states hasn’t changed,” the paper reports, “administrators at some institutions say the market requires that they start paying presidents more.”

At my state university, tuition is up 15 percent, or a little more than $400 a year. Here’s what I’m doing to try to offset the hike. As you read these tips, note that many will work for anyone, student or otherwise.

1. Party smarter

Around every college campus are bars and nightclubs that survive almost solely by entertaining its (theoretically) legal-age student body. But at my school, we’re going out less and staying in more. “Dorm parties” and “house parties” mean we can buy food and drinks much cheaper from Walmart and liquor stores. (As an added bonus, it also means less drunk driving, since those who have had a little too much can just crash on the floor.)

When we do go out, we read our student newspaper – not for the articles but for the ads from bars offering incredible deals on “college nights.” And, of course, the word will spread like wildfire through Twitter and Facebook. Bottom line: If you aren’t drinking at two-for-one prices, stay home.

You don’t have to be a student to save the same way on your entertainment expenses.

2. Start smart

When I was looking for a college, comparing costs was almost impossible – each school seemed to have its own way of breaking down the numbers. While it’s too late for me (I’m a year from graduating), the government recently launched a new website called the College Affordability and Transparency Center, which shows you the least expensive universities in the country. All you need to do is type in what you’re looking for: a two-year school? Private? Public? The site does the rest and returns objective, fact-laden info. Another site to try is The College Board’s QuickFinder, which compares up to three colleges at a time.

3. Eat right and cheap

My campus cafeteria has all the fast-food options: burgers, chicken, subs, tacos. But my friends and I stay away from it as much as possible. Not only is it unhealthy, it’s really not that cheap anymore – certainly not as cheap as doing the cooking ourselves. Indiana University came up with a great guide for college cooking, and USA Today published tips from a vegetarian student about what she does to stay full and healthy. Thankfully, our newer dorms and apartments have nice kitchens, which makes cooking much easier – something to look for when you check out colleges.

4. Retro is in again

In my neck of the woods, the Salvation Army and Goodwill have totally overhauled their stores, making them brighter, cleaner, and hipper. My suggestion: Shop at thrift stores now, and you’ll be cool because you were on the cutting edge of this returning trend. Here’s a national directory of thrift stores.

5. Movies on campus – and everything else

The Los Angeles Times reported last year that theater ticket prices were on the rise, and IMAX prices are even steeper. So college kids are always on the prowl for student discounts – some theaters even give you a list of locations offering them. And “Netflix parties” are becoming more common, where movies are streamed on the largest flat-screen a friend or roommate has.

On my campus, we have an amazing movie theater that shows some current and foreign flicks for cheaper than the local multiplex if you have a student ID. And we also have a theater department with a black-box theater and a music department that puts on classical music concerts. Now, that’s not the kind of entertainment college kids prefer – but it makes for interesting and cheap college dating, especially if you want to be cultural and not seem cheap.

Also check out 6 Tips to Pay Less for a College Degree and 6 Top Tips for Finding College Aid.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
How Much of My Social Security Can My Ex Take?
How Much of My Social Security Can My Ex Take?

A man wonders if his ex-wife will siphon away his Social Security benefit.

What is the Cheapest Grocery Store?
What is the Cheapest Grocery Store?

Aldi, Kroger and Walmart: Which grocery store is the cheapest?

Small Splurges That Make It Feel Like You’re Living Large
Small Splurges That Make It Feel Like You’re Living Large

Cutting costs is the shortest path to financial freedom. However, there are times when a little spending can produce big returns.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
New Retirement Bill Would Help Savers of All Ages
New Retirement Bill Would Help Savers of All Ages

With bipartisan support, this bill could help millions of workers and retirees boost or conserve their retirement savings.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

3 Colors That Can Ruin Your Car’s Resale Value
3 Colors That Can Ruin Your Car’s Resale Value

Select the wrong color for your next car, and it could depreciate twice as fast as others.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire
9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire

You’ve waited all your life for this moment. Make the most of your retirement.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon
Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

7 Everyday Items About to Get More Expensive
7 Everyday Items About to Get More Expensive

Prices hikes are on the way for some essential goods.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target

No store can specialize in everything. For some purchases, it’s smart to shop elsewhere.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores
8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores

For one expert, these secondhand bargains stand out from the rest.

20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees
20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

Retirees can dial back the intensity of work while continuing to bring in a paycheck.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report

Federal law lets these entities peek at your credit — regardless of whether you’re borrowing money.

11 Foods That Can Keep for Years
11 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks
Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks

Don’t let buyers fleece you — whether you’re selling via a yard sale or Facebook Marketplace.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.