It Pays to Be True to Your School: 5 Ways Your Alma Mater Can Save You Money

By Sarah Winfrey on 4 December 2009 (Updated 16 December 2010) 9 comments
Photo: Werwin15

Depending on how college went for you, you were most likely either incredibly excited or incredibly sad about leaving campus. Either way, unless you've returned as faculty or staff, your association with your college probably ended just after graduation. And if you're like me, you let most of your alumni information sit unopened or filed straight to the trashcan, when it comes in the mail.

With the economy still in a shambles and many people struggling to make ends meet, now may be the time to open some of those envelopes. Alumni associations are doing everything they can to make things better for graduates of their college during this difficult time. Amazingly enough, some of the savings are pretty substantial.

Insurance Discounts

Many universities have worked out deals with auto, home, life, medical and even pet insurance companies to help their alumni get a discount on these important purchases. While you may not necessarily save money by going through your former school, it's definitely worth checking out if you're shopping around for insurance.

Make sure you follow all the instructions given by your school or the insurance company so you are eligible for this discount. Some companies will require you to send them an official transcript or show other proof that you are, in fact, an alum.

Gym Membership

Universities tend to have decent- to high-quality workout, gym, and swimming facilities, and will let alumni use these at a discounted rate. While you'll still usually have to pay, it won't be nearly as much as what the local gym will charge. Some schools will have restrictions on the hours during which alumni can use the facilities, but most will let you bring a friend (or a spouse) for a minimal extra cost.

For alumni who no longer live in the area local to their schools, some universities have worked out deals with popular national fitness centers for discounted rates. Check with your alumni organization to see if they work with anyone near you.

Career Counseling

Each school's offerings to alumni in the career department will be different, but most offer, at least, access to a job board and a career development library. Some go much farther than that, offering their alum career counseling, placement services, career conferences, job fairs, and more.

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Even if you are happy in your current job and career, this might be something to check out. Many schools offer career aptitude testing, for a small fee, which can help you turn up ideas for making money on the side.

 

Travel Discounts

If you're looking for a discount on travel expenses, you may not need to look any farther than your alumni department. Depending on the school, they may have partnered with travel agencies, airlines, and/or cruise lines to get discounts for their alum.

In addition to helping you get discounts on travel that you schedule yourself, your alumni department may schedule travel events, like cruises and tours, that you can take part in for a discounted fee. If this is how you like to travel, it could be a good chance to reconnect with some old friends.

Local and National Coupons

Most universities have worked out deals with local businesses for their students, staff, faculty, and alumni to receive discounts. These businesses can be anything from locally run restaurants to dry cleaners to pet stores and more. You may need to show an alumni card or purchase a special coupon book to be eligible for these, so be sure to check it out.

In addition, many schools also have deals with national companies. Costco is popular, and many universities offer their alumni either discounted membership rates or special coupons once they've joined. If there is a local instance of a national chain near the school, chances are the school has hooked up with the company to provide discounts.

Have you saved money by working through your alma mater's alumni association? Tell us how.

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Guest's picture
valletta

I went to an expensive private university which I could not afford to attend today, haha.
I feel sorry for current college grads....
Anyhoo, I can audit almost any class for $25! Just need approval from the class Professor. Regular tuition is about $30,000 per year now.
I took some Italian courses before going to Italy, some history classes just for fun and plan on taking some more philosophy classes next year. Amazing deal.

Guest's picture

Good things to keep in mind. What do you have for people who went into the military after high school? :)

Guest's picture
Grissom

For me, the money saving tip is to look for grocery coupons before you go to any grocery store such like price chopper or CVS. PriceChopper always gives you a lot of coupons after your check out. I will put all these kinds of coupons into my coupon book by the date time order. That save me large amount of money.

As you know, even in grocery, there are many kinds of coupons, some coupons can give you buy one get one, some coupons can give you 20% to 50% off. In my option, the latter one is better than previous one. Why? Because I always find that if I choose the previous one I would have one or two things which I may not need anymore. But, if you just find out something you need having buy one get one then that's another story.

G
Member of Amazon Coupon Codes

Financial Samurai's picture

Before you give money to your school, pay your parents back all the money they spent on your education as well as for general living expenses!

You own your Alma Mater NOTHING b/c you already paid for the tuition. The only thing I encourage all to do is be proud of your alma mater and sport easily recognizable gear during social functions or sporting events :)

Keigu,

Financial Samurai
"Slicing Through Money's Mysteries"

Guest's picture
Guest

As a fundraiser at private university (also my alma mater), I feel I should correct this common misconception. Full tuition usually only covers about 2/3 of actual expenses that a school incurs to educate a student. Technically, all students get a "discount," even if they received no scholarships.

If you had a satisfying experience at your alma mater and have benefited from the education you received, you really should give SOMETHING to the annual fund every year.

Sierra Black's picture

I use the alumni insurance discount through Emerson College (where I did my master's) for my auto and home insurance. It is a great deal, even better than the discount suppliers like Geico.

 

Sierra Black - embracing the wild heart of parenting at www.childwild.com

Guest's picture
Olivia

While I agree that parents are owed the world for the money they put into their children's educations, I strongly disagree with "you owe your Alma Mater NOTHING."

Yes, you paid your tuition (be it through savings, loans, or scholarships). However, as valletta cited, the costs of college are rising immensely. One way to help keep tuition down is through alumni donations, many of which go to financial aid. Alumni pick different reasons to donate: in appreciation of the clubs people participated in, the memorable experiences they had, or even the invaluable networking the college provided them with--after all, many colleges give alumni feel a sense of solidarity with fellow alumni (read: it can get you the job!). And thinking into the future, would you want your children to attend that same university? I'm NOT saying that donations will get your children in (their academics should be doing that); however I AM saying that if you want to ensure the school in their time is just as great as it was in yours, donations help dramatically.

I don't believe that alumni should be donating all of their salary to their alumni, nor do I believe that they should be doing so right out of college. However, I do think alumni should be grateful and thank the school that enabled them to experience "the best four years of their lives."

Guest's picture
Lisa

I saw this article linked on Consumerist and had to comment. I just bought a new MacBook Pro through the university I attended. They have special pricing through Apple and are able to extend the discount to alumni. I was able to save about $350 over the best price I found elsewhere after shopping around. The only downside is that I had to wait about 10 days for shipping, but it's due to arrive today and I'm excited!

Guest's picture

This is wonderful that alumni are looking out for there members. I hope that those who used to trash the mails aren't shelve now that they have decided to be active.