Tuition prices around the country rise every year. The average cost of tuition and fees during the 2018-2019 school year was $9,716/year for a public, in-state school and $35,676/year for a private institution—and that’s not including housing or living costs.
It can be a daunting task to think about saving money while shelling out so much, but the financial habits you build in college can set the scene for your financial security later in life. Try the following tips both on and off campus to stay frugal.
- Skip the University Bookstore
Your university bookstore is a great resource, but you’ll be able to save a good amount if you hunt for discounts and choose to purchase used books, rather than new. You can also look into renting your less-crucial textbooks. If it’s not a book you’ll want to reference in the years after your degree, renting will save you the trouble of offloading an unneeded library down the road
- Shop Back-to-School Sales
You’re not in grade school anymore, but you’ll still need school supplies for your upcoming school year—and you’ll need more supplies than you ever needed before. Whether you’re shopping for dorm furniture or new notebooks, the start of the school year is a great time to find the best deals.
- Utilize Campus Amenities
Your tuition dollars include access to the school library, health clinic, gym facilities and more. You’re already paying, so you may as well use them.
- Cut Cable Costs
Are you paying for extra entertainment on campus? You shouldn’t be. Cut out extraneous expenses besides the basics like Netflix—and even then, don’t be ashamed to piggyback on your parents’ streaming subscriptions. You’re a (trying-not-to-be) broke college student. Anything goes.
- Find a Job
Most universities offer work-study programs that will allow you to earn at least a slight side-income. You can apply to work at the school cafeteria, coffee shop, or library. You can also take a less traditional job, like becoming a teaching assistant or an RA, to offset housing costs.
- Use Your Student Discount
As a college student, you’re eligible for discounts at many local and national stores in your area. This might range from small benefits, like a 10% discount at your favorite coffee shop, or much larger benefits, like access to “education pricing” at places like the Apple Store. You’ll also get free or discounted admission to local shows, museums and more, so don’t forget your ID.
- Reconsider Your Bank
If you don’t have a steady stream of income during some or any of your college years, you may want to consider switching banks or account types. Many major banks require monthly deposits of a certain amount to avoid incurring fees; check to see if your bank offers a college checking option, and if not, it might be time to shop around.
- Pay Cash to Curb Your Spending
It’s easy to hand over your credit card and ‘forget’ to look at the bill—but it’s a lot harder to overspend when you only have so much cash in your wallet. Pay attention to your daily spending (that $2 latte every day can add up quickly), and ensure that you’re keeping expenses light if you plan on saving anything.
- Explore Supplemental Education
One thing you can do while you’re in school to improve your postgrad life (and even your starting salary) is explore supplementary education. You can teach yourself marketable skills like a new language, or valuable life skills like healthy cooking. It’s a great way to spend your free time, instead of a nightly Netflix binge.
- Jumpstart Your Loan Repayments
You may not have a lot of loose cash lying around during your college years, but whether you’re earning income from a campus job or saving money with coupons, you should consider using those funds to get a head start on your interest payments. Even $20 a month toward your loan balance can make a huge difference in the amount of interest you’ll pay over the lifetime of your loan, so it’s never too early to start.