As a student, there are a number of ways you can save money during school. We’ve outlined some tips and ideas to help you manage your money:
Fill out the FAFSA every year. Complete the FAFSA by April 15th before each new school year, regardless of your family’s financial status to see if you’re eligible to receive funds. The FAFSA helps you tap into federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships.
Apply for scholarships and grants. These financial resources are designed to reward academic success and promote educational advancement. Check with your counselor or advisor and the financial aid office and watch for other scholarship program announcements from companies and organizations who may have opportunities that are relevant to you. Your local community foundation is a great place to start.
Visit your local bank. Ask about checking and savings accounts designed especially for college students. These often have lower fees and no minimum balance requirement. To track your balance and avoid expensive overdraft charges, use online banking to check your balance regularly.
ON CAMPUS SAVINGS
Borrow or rent textbooks. Textbooks can be surprisingly expensive. Before you hit the campus bookstore, see if you can borrow books from a fellow student or from the university library. If not, buy or rent used textbooks at Amazon.com. You can also rent books from Chegg or Barnes & Noble’s textbook service or order digital textbooks through sites like iFlipd, which offer a pay-as-you-go model.
Explore campus amenities. Check out activities that are available on campus. Everything from movie nights to fitness classes might be offered free of charge.
Stay focused on your studies. Every additional semester of college is another big expense. Have a solid plan for your classes and degree. To stay on schedule, take advantage of university resources like tutoring and academic advising.
Choose housing wisely. It usually costs less to live in the dorms than it does to live off campus.
Check out the library. Use the library on campus and in your community to check out books, videos, audiobooks and other resources. Many Indiana libraries offer digital services and also have items available for checkout—from museum and pool passes to bakeware, board games and even outdoor games and instruments.
Workout at on-campus facilities or exercise outside. Skip paying a monthly gym membership and check out on-campus fitness classes or step outside to get your sweat on.
Don’t leave home without your student ID. Many places offer college discounts from tech companies like Adobe and Apple to local restaurants, major retailers, cultural and arts institutions, etc.
Create a budget. Use an app like Mint, EveryDollar or You Need a Budget to help you track and keep control of your money.
Shop thrifty. Consider buying things second hand to save. Many consignment shops offer student discounts. Some friends also have fun swapping clothes as long as each person takes good care of the items borrowed.
Limit meals out and brown bag your lunch. If you bought into the meal plan at school, use it! Student discounts aside, the costs of eating out can add up quickly.
Shop generic brands and plan meals. When you shop for groceries, buy the off-brand and plan ahead so you buy what you need and don’t waste food. You can also stretch your food by eating your leftovers.
Make your own coffee. Consider investing in a good coffee maker instead of spending money every morning on lattes.
Cut car expenses. Parking, gas, and insurance (not to mention unexpected car repairs) add up to a substantial amount. Instead of taking a car to campus, use public transit, borrow a friend’s car, or use a Zipcar if you need to travel long distance. Carpooling with friends or using services like Uber and Lyft are also affordable ways to get around.