8 Money-Saving Hacks Every College Student Should Try

By Ashley Eneriz on 15 August 2016 0 comments

Don't let the costs of college loom over your head. Use these seven financial hacks to cruise through college and save thousands off your overall experience.

1. Rent Your Textbook Through Amazon

No need to buy every textbook, especially with Amazon's rental textbook program. My sister rents all of her textbooks through Amazon and saves $50–$100 off each book. For example, she rented Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society (9th Edition) for a recent class for $37.45. The new price of the book is $138.47 and the used price is $67.48. Amazon Prime covered shipping costs.

2. Research Book Costs Before Enrolling

When you first start taking college classes, you will have more flexibility over which classes you can choose, especially when you need to fulfill the GE requirement of your degree. Choose your class based on textbook and material fee cost, if possible. I signed up for a psychology class in my freshman year, but the textbook was written by the teacher and would cost $190. Since there was not a way find the book used, I dropped the class within the acceptable time period and took another class that fulfilled the requirement and had $20–$30 in book costs.

Often you can borrow the textbook from the university library. At my school, the recent edition textbooks were only lent out for in-library use for an hour, but that was usually enough time to finish my work.

See also: 8 Part-Time Jobs That Offer College Benefits

3. Piggyback Your Degree With Community College Courses

I graduated debt-free, and one of the major things that helped me do that was the abundance of community college courses I was able to take. My university allowed 70 community college transfer units. With the help of online classes, I was able to enroll in two local community colleges that increased the type of classes that I could transfer to my degree.

I simply looked up agreements between my university and my two local community colleges and took as many classes as possible. One semester, I was enrolled and taking classes at three colleges at once. This also allowed me to take more than 18 units, which allowed me to finish my degree in three years, instead of four. All of this saved me five semesters at my university, which means I saved roughly $20,000.

5. Test Out of Classes

Research the possibility of testing out of some college classes. This can help you avoid boring and costly introduction classes that you already are knowledgeable in. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is accepted by over 2,900 colleges. The CLEP site allows you to search which colleges allow which test, though you will have to find out the maximum amount of credit your university allows through CLEP. The test costs $80, but military personnel may be eligible to receive funding for the cost of CLEP exams.

6. Check Out Local Thrift Stores

Shop at thrift stores that are near your university for a better chance to find apparel with your college's logo on it, as well as still-relevant textbooks. You can score both inexpensively, and either keep them for yourself, or sell them for more online or to other students via sale fliers on the campus' public bulletin board.

7. Become a Resident Assistant (RA)

Movies usually portray resident assistants as overbearing college students who have been on campus for almost a decade. However, the job can be fun and the free rent is definitely a perk that will save you $8,000 to $12,000 a year. Know that these positions are usually competitive, so make your application stand out, and volunteer for other on-campus events to show you have school spirit.

8. Get on a Family Plan

There are many different family plans that you can share to save money. The most popular family plans are offered through cellphone providers. Being on a family plan rather than on your own individual plan can save you $50–$100 a month off your cellphone bill.

Family plans are not just for cellphones, though. You can save money by sharing TV streaming, Amazon Prime, Uber, and more. (See also: How Family Plans Can Save You Tons)

College is expensive, but that doesn't mean you have to drown in debt to get your degree. Living frugally and minimizing living costs in college will make it easier to once you graduate.

What are your favorite ways to save money while in college? Already a graduate? Share your experience of frugal college living.

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