Money Saving Tips

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

100 + Essential Ways to Save Money in College
Written by Irina Vasilescu

Your future (or your child’s future) begins in college. Unfortunately, most college graduates leave college and start their careers with $37,000 in debt on average. By living frugally and taking advantage of existing opportunities to save on college fees, getting off to a better start is possible.

However, you have to be smart and know your stuff. This article will bring together all the possible ways in which students can save while studying, so make it your primary resource in your efforts to avoid the “debt trap” that so many young people fall into.

Read:  The Ultimate Guide to Avoid Student Loan Debt

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

The sooner the students of the future start planning for their college career, the better. In fact, if they can begin their preparations when they enter high school, the investment of time and money will pay off. Here’s how:

  1. Know what college is likely to cost. To get a clear picture of what you’re up against, start investigating college fees right away. Having a target to shoot at keeps you motivated and helped you to track progress.
  2. Start saving early. The previous savings begin, the more you’ll be able to accumulate over time. It shouldn’t just be parents who do the saving either. If your child works hard and saves for college, he or she will take the opportunity for further study much more seriously and be less likely to drop out. Take a look at the best ways to raise money for college.
  3. Budget expenses and put the rest away. Good financial management is a habit that lasts a lifetime. Start now.
  4. Let others know what the big goal is. Tell friends and family that gifts of money will be saved for your future college career. They will certainly help if the know.
  5. Salt away your windfalls. Whenever a surprising sum of money comes your way, add it to your college kitty.
  6. Don’t waste time at high school. Failing subjects mean they have to be repeated. That costs money that could have gone towards the college fund.
  7. Be organized. Organization equals efficiency. Efficiency equals more time that could be turned into money. Use saved time to earn.
  8. Improve your grades. The better they are, the better your chances of landing financial aid.
  9. Start accumulating college credits with high school courses. The more credits you have, the fewer college courses you have to take. 
  10. Find out about subsidized study directions. If you choose to become a teacher, for example, subsidies are available.
  11. Keep a little aside for emergencies. Emergencies happen, and paying cash is cheaper than dealing with debt. Find out now how to build an emergency fund.
  12. Put college savings into a 529 college saving plan. Parents who save for their kids’ college costs can get tax breaks.
  13. Do community service. A record for doing community service improves your chances of getting a scholarship.
  14. Consider doing military service. This qualifies you for assistance programs covering tuition.
  15. Start networking. Networking with leaders in your chosen career could get you powerful allies, and even financial help from businesses.
  16. Get in touch with businesses. Many businesses will sponsor students in return for a commitment to work for them after graduation.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

Use college fund calculators to get a clear picture:

  1. Student Aid College Savings Calculator is a handy tool supplied by the government to help you plan.
  2. Pax World College Savings Calculator helps you to take expenses other than tuition into account.
  3. CGI Money College Planner is a helpful tool to plan your savings and know where you stand.
  4. Smart Money College Planning Spreadsheet simply fill in the details and update regularly.
  5. Planning Tips Tuition Fund Calculator helps you to see what you should aim to save every month between now and college enrollment.
  6. See how you can make the most of your savings with FINRA. Not all savings accounts are equally profitable.
  7. College Answer school affordability checker can help you to find a school where you can get your education for less.
  8. MoneyCentral Personal Finance Calculator helps you to see how your savings will mount up over the years.
  9. The Personal Vanguard Tool helps you to evaluate investment options.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

Investigate financial aid opportunities by using these tips:

  1. Fill in your FAFSA. Know your chances of getting a scholarship, grant or work-study opportunity.
  2. Check out Federal Work Study programs. A part-time job with the federal government can help to fund your studies.
  3. Use Nelnet. Various financial aid opportunities for students are explained in this resource.
  4. Check out scholarships for college students. What would you need to do or prove to get a scholarship? The sooner you know, the sooner you can start working towards getting one.
  5. Beware of scams. Scholarship scams are regretfully quite common. Be very cautious who you give money to. You shouldn’t have to pay for a scholarship!
  6. Check out the Pay for College blog. You may get some extra ideas there.
  7. Investigate grants. If you can qualify for one, you could be covering a large number of expenses.
  8. Consider crowdfunding. Can you inspire people to give you money towards your college career? If so, you can get donations through a crowd-funding platform.
  9. If you do need a loan, get the best rates. eStudentLoan helps you to compare loans online.
  10. Try a social lending network. GreenNote and Zopa allow members to lend or borrow money at low-interest rates.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

Follow these steps when choosing a college:

  1. Local is cheaper. Students can live at home with their parents for free while studying.
  2. Compare colleges. The big name colleges are expensive, but there are good colleges with lower fees. Shop around.
  3. Consider distance education. It takes self-discipline, but you can study part-time while you work and pay less for your courses if you choose distance education.
  4. Attend a Free University. Yes, they exist. Unfortunately, most of them are outside the US. Compare overseas travel and living costs to local options.
  5. Community college for some or all courses. Community colleges are way cheaper. If you can do some or even all of your courses at a community college, you will save!
  6. Accredited-free online colleges. If you’re worried this type of qualification won’t be highly rated, find out whether you can transfer your credits to a mainstream college for your final year.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

First prize is an employer where you can get work experience and earn as you study, but if you can’t find one that can give you enough time for your studies, try these options:

  1. Holiday jobs to fund your semester. There are plenty of holiday jobs out there. If you can land one, save most of your earnings for college expenses.
  2. Become a tutor. Are you brilliant at math? Can you play a musical instrument well? Use your skills to earn more money.
  3. Offer house sitting services. It won’t even interfere with your study time much, and you get paid!
  4. Wait on tables. If you can get a spot in a smart restaurant, your tips and earnings can be quite substantial. If not, even a part-time job at a fast-food outlet is better than nothing.
  5. Use your car to earn. Be an Uber driver or even join multiple ride-sharing platforms.
  6. Sell your notes. If you’re great at note-taking and summarizing, your less hard-working fellow-students may be willing to buy your records. Don’t worry. You still have an advantage because you made them.
  7. Work online. Can you write well? Can you design websites or logos? Are you tops at getting interaction on social media? Various online platforms offer students a chance to earn extra money.
  8. Blog like crazy. You need a head start on this one, but with an established blog, you can monetize advertising and get affiliate marketing income.
  9. Do some light admin. Many businesses need a little help with admin from time to time and will consider students for the job.
  10. Throw a benefit party. As long as you aren’t violating local laws, a pay-at-the-door party with DJs and light refreshments can earn you and a group of friends good money.
  11. Sell eats. Do you make the best cookies? Can you throw together meals that are way better than the ones from the cafeteria? Your fellow students can become customers.
  12. Get involved at the local markets. Whether you sell crafts, foods, keep kids entertained or become a busker you could turn a Saturday into your most profitable day.
  13. Buy and sell stuff. If you have an eye for a bargain and know what you can sell fast, buying and selling stuff can make good profits. Check out our guide to becoming a successful eBay seller.
  14. Sell old toys, sporting goods and clothes. You might be surprised to find how much you can get for your old Lego sets, Barbie dolls and other cult toys. The same goes for sporting goods you don’t use. Old clothes won’t get you a fortune, but every bit counts!
  15. Babysit. And no, this isn’t only for the girls. If you have a good character reference, you can make good money babysitting.
  16. Do some odd-jobbing. If you’re handy with tools, odd-jobbing is an option. A local hardware store may even promote your services.
  17. Ask about on-campus jobs. You won’t even have to go elsewhere to earn a little extra.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

Save on the things you need to get through your student years:

  1. Live at home if you can. The savings are enormous!
  2. Look for cheap accommodation options. Compare dorms, communal apartments and homestays to get the best price.
  3. Be a residential advisor. You won’t earn cash, but your dorm accommodation will be free.
  4. Sell your old textbooks and buy second-hand ones. You probably won’t use old textbooks again, sell them, and use the money to buy the things you need for current courses.
  5. Shop around online. Look for the best prices on textbooks by shopping online.
  6. Use your library. College libraries and even public libraries will have some of the reference books you need for free.
  7. Get a refurbished computer. Second-hand computers can work out expensive if they don’t function properly. Get one from a shop that offers a guarantee.
  8. Use open-source software. No, you don’t need Windows Office Professional. Open Office is free. The same goes for most other types of software.
  9. Keep virus protection up to date and firewalls up. Protect your work and save on computer repair bills.
  10. Save on printing costs. Get cheap cartridges, opt for refills or do it yourself.
  11. Print or write on both sides of paper. Use scrap paper for rough notes.
  12. Don’t buy research papers. Paid access research papers quickly add up. Use the resources offered by your college and ask for help if you get stuck looking for info.
  13. Use your student discounts. Find out which stores offer student discounts and use your student card to claim savings.
  14. Check out department stores for stationary. Even without discounts, department stores like Walmart are often cheapest.
  15. Save on transport. Share rides, walk or take a bicycle.
  16. Look after your stuff. Just because you’re honest doesn’t mean other people are. Keep valuable stuff like computers and mobile phones safe.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

After all the hard work it took to save up for college. You don’t want to waste a cent of your hard-earned money.

  1. Choose the right courses for your intended career. The more you chop and change, the more your college education will cost.
  2. Ensure that you pass all your courses. You won’t want to pay double for courses. Study hard and pass the first time.
  3. Attend all classes and do all assignments. You paid for this, right? Get everything you can for the money you paid.
  4. Party, but don’t party too hard. The fun, social side of college is not essential, but don’t let it spoil your studies.
  5. Don’t cram. Especially if you’re working, you need to stay up to date and learn as you go rather than waiting for an exam before you hit panic stations.
  6. Plan your time carefully. Work, socializing and studying all take time. Get the balance right.
  7. Ask questions and ask for help. Lots of students waste bucks by not using their teachers for the job they were hired to do – teaching. The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask.

100+ Effective Ways to Save Money in College

Even when you qualify, you probably won’t be earning a big salary. Use the lessons you learned while saving for college to keep your expenses low.

  1. Have a budget and stick to it. Know your income and allocate a set amount to your various expenses. Track it carefully.
  2. Budget for holidays and breaks too. Overspending during holidays is tempting. Know whether you can afford to spoil yourself to a little getaway, and decide how much you can spend on it without ruining your financial plans.
  3. Track your spending and look for ways to save. Keep a record of the things you spend money on. Are the items you can do without?
  4. If you have extra cash, save it. If you have a little more money than you expected, resist the temptation to splurge. You may need it later.
  5. If savings mount up, think about investing. As little as $1,000 is all you need to start investing. Make your money grow.
  6. Join a credit union for better deals on banking transactions. There are also bank accounts for students with zero charges.
  7. Track your bank accounts and ensure you don’t bounce debit orders. If your payments bounce, you have to pay penalties to your creditor and the bank. Waste not, want not.
  8. Pay all your bills on time. Settle bills without automated payments on or before due dates to avoid late payment penalties.
  9. Keep a small change jar. Remember your piggy bank when you were a kid? Your small change adds up to a substantial amount over time.
  10. Eat out and get takeouts rarely. Homemade food is a lot cheaper than ready-made food, and it’s better for you too. Snack on nutritious things likes fresh fruit.
  11. Drink tap water rather than soft drinks or juice. Tap water is free. Soft drinks contain too much sugar and aren’t good for you.
  12. Don’t make a habit of frequenting coffee shops. Do your math. If you grab take-out coffee as a habit, it costs. Take a flask of coffee along instead.
  13. If you must drink alcohol, choose special offers or drink at home. Try to limit drinking frequency, and when you do drink, choose happy hours or venues with student specials.
  14. Don’t use a student credit card. Just like any other credit card, student credit cards are a trap for the unwary, and a temptation to overspend.
  15. Don’t open accounts at stores. Stores that offer account facilities are much more expensive than cash stores. Besides, if you have a line of credit, you’ll probably use it. Welcome to the debt trap!
  16. Buy second-hand clothing. Shopping at thrift shops is fun, and you can get perfectly good clothing for a fraction of the price it costs elsewhere.
  17. If you have an apartment (or share one), keep utility costs low. Tricks, like lowering the thermostat on your water heater, and putting on a sweater instead of turning up the indoor heating, can result in substantial savings.
  18. Shop as seldom as possible and only take with what you plan to spend. Leave your debit card at home. This also applies to evenings out with friends.
  19. Use free data, and keep phone bills low. Look for internet hotspots when you need data, and don’t make unnecessary phone calls. A pay-as-you-go phone, helps you to avoid surprise bills.
  20. Use WhatsApp and Viber for free communication. Why not use free calls and free messages? All you need are these two apps and internet.
  21. Choose leisure activities that are free or cheap. You can have lots of fun and even stay fit without spending anything extra. Go for a walk in the park, ride a bicycle for fun, or rent DVDs with a group of friends.
  22. Use coupons. Considering that retailers have exclusive coupons for students, you should try saving every time you shop.
  23. Make your own gifts and greeting cards. Nobody expects students to have a lot of money for cards and gifts. Besides, homemade cards and gifts are more meaningful.

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100 + Essential Ways to Save Money in College

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About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our money-saving and DIY expert and also the editor-in-chief as she's always on the lookout for the latest online deals.

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