Although there are many ways to save money in college (financial aid, scholarships, or even attending a community college or online university for the first two years to save on general ed classes), there's no denying that higher education is still an expensive pursuit.
For most struggling students, this means finding ways to cut back on everything in order to make the small savings add up to major money. And part of the process is finding ways to make your status as a student work to your advantage. So here are just five amazing discounts that you can't afford to pass up.
Living off-campus in a shared apartment or house with your friends may sound like fun, but it's going to be far more expensive than dorm life. While the dorms are not cheap, they're certainly less pricy than other rental options, and you have the added bonus of being on campus so you don't have to worry about paying for transportation between home and school.
2. Meal plan.
Food is a major expense that few students stop to consider before they move out of their parents' home. But whether you live in the dorms or off campus, a meal plan is likely the cheapest option. Considering the alternative is shopping and cooking for yourself (which you likely don't have the time or money to tackle) or dining out (WAY more expensive), it behooves you to get yourself a meal plan through the school cafeteria. In most cases, this is also the healthiest option since they tend to have a rotating menu (so you're not stuck eating pizza every day) and many include a salad bar and fresh fruit.
3. Bus pass.
If it turns out you have to travel around the city, for work or other reasons, talk to the administrative office about securing a pass for public transportation (metro, buses, etc.). Many universities have made arrangements with the city to offer discounted or even free passes to students, so whether it's too cold to bike to work or you just want to hang out downtown for a day, this is probably the cheapest way to travel.
4. Student ID.
You might be surprised to learn just how many discounts you can garner courtesy of your student ID. Most people know that they can use it to save on entry into movie theaters, museums, botanical gardens, and even theme parks. But you may also get rebates on travel, clothing, food, and more. All you have to do is ask for a student discount any time you make a purchase. Often, you can find lists of stores online, such as Apple, that offer discounts with proof of your status as a student, and you should check your school newspaper, which may also list options.
You may have to pay full price for your laptop, paper, pencils, etc., but one area that you can definitely save on expense is software. While hardware and office supplies rarely go on sale, and student discounts may or may not be available, software developers seem to have a soft spot in their hearts for students, who always need their wares but can rarely afford them. For this reason, nearly any software you might want comes in either a less expensive student version or with a significant price reduction for student buyers. Also ask the college library what free software options they offer as some offer free licenses for Microsoft products, such as Work and Excel.
Bonus! 6. Textbooks.
Next to tuition and room and board, textbooks are the next biggest expense. Be sure to shop around for the best price on your textbooks. Some times, the college bookstone may actually have the best price, but compare prices online as such online retailers as eCampus.com and even eBay.com.