Money Saving Tips For College Students Living on Campus

More than likely you know someone graduating high school and heading off to college this fall. After getting over the shock of the first year’s tuition bill, they’ll be in need of some frugal tips to get by while living on campus.


Reduce tuition costs by:
1. Attending a local state school

2. Getting a job at the university and let them foot the bill as most institutions do for full and part time employees

3. Applying for grants specific to your major, merit based, financial need and state based. For example, VA gives a grant for all graduate students in good standing at any accredited university.

Room and Board
1. Apply to be a resident assistant. This is one of the most rewarding positions you’ll have in your college career. Not to mention that it totally wipes out the room and board portion of your tuition bill. The position entails you being responsible for a certain floor or building on campus. You plan activities, programs and on some campuses police the dorm at night by being available should an emergency pop up such as a party getting too wild and residents become intoxicated to the point of alcohol poisoning.

2. Get roommates. If you can tolerate living with multiple people in one room or suite this greatly reduces your tuition bill than if you lived solo on a studio or only had one roommate. I lived with 7 other women before becoming an RA in my freshman year.

3. Get an apartment off-campus. This might require a cost benefit analysis but with the rising cost of room and board across the nation it might be worth it (if your campus lets you do this in your first year) to rent an apartment off campus. I’d probably recommend this to a second and not a first year student as I think freshmen need the guidance and structure of living on campus their first year away from home

1. Don’t get a car. Why? You don’t need it. It doesn’t matter if mom and dad are footing the bill, wait until your junior year but in your first year, it’s really just for show unless you have a job that requires the use of a car.

2. Utilize the university transportation system. This includes the on campus shuttles and local buses. Transportation abounds in college towns so this shouldn’t be a huge problem, just familiarize yourself with the times and routes.

1. Open a bank account.

2. Do not accept those silly credit card offers from reps offering you free pens in exchange for credit.

3. Get a part time job. Save 30% of your income unless you have major expenses. A work/study position would be ideal and wish I’d accepted one back in college.

4. Buy your books USED at least 6 weeks before classes begin from Amazon Marketplace, Ebay, and

Moving on to this new stage in your life can be daunting at first, not to mention expensive. Save diligently and spend wisely but most of all have fun as you’re now in the bosom of self discovery. You are now beginning what will probably be the best times of your life and can even learn a lot by learning through online schools that teaches you about business and science.

Do you have any advice for students heading off to college for the first time?

  • Bill

    +++ for the idea of not giving them a car. Most college campus neighborhoods have everything they need within walking distance. And, if not, good public transportation.

  • Jon

    Hi, your ideas for saving money is very good.. and most of the time we usually opt these ideas. I appreciate your articles and the sources you mentioned. when I was in the college I have to manage my work and studies and managing both work and study is the best way to save money.

  • anne27

    For me the best way to save money during college the fact that I had a full time job all while i studied, and i gained experience in the same time. It is the best choice when you don’t have a huge bank account.

  • JohnsonSmith

    Getting a part time job and saving 30% of your income from that is a good idea. A work/study position would be ideal.

  • Turn One Pound Into One Million

    Something I did at college was sold my books once I had finished with them. I made more advertising them on the college noticeboards than selling them online. Another tip is to share a book between a group of you. This can be tricky if you all want it at the same time but if one of you works at night and the other in the day, it can be a great way to save money and you can always sell it and share the proceeds when you are done.

  • Emma

    Regarding books – by the time I hit my final year of university, I had given up on buying my books. However, that’s not to say I didn’t do the required readings.

    Go to the library. Most books are available for 3 week rentals, and if not, there should be a “reserved reading” section, where you can take the book out for a few hours to a few days, depending on the book.

    As an english major, I couldn’t afford the hundreds of dollars in books required for each course, so I went the library route. I had to buy a few used, but between late charges and used books, I spent no more than $100 of the $1000 to $1500/year for new books and course kits.

    For my first year though, I bought all my books used through other students, and then sold them at my cost, so I really just “borrowed” books for the year.

    Also food:
    Do potluck nights with friends – it lets you have some variation in your diet, if you are lucky enough to be able to make your own meals. And, don’t waste money on drinks on campus. Bring your own or just drink water. Sure, it’s not as tasty as a pop/juice, but it’s much healthier, and even better, it’s free!