Besides tuition, college students have many other expenses during their college years. Accumulating significant debt is not unusual and can lead to an overwhelming financial hole. With good planning, students can save money in college. 

Student expenses fall into different categories, including housing, food, transportation, and supplies and tuition. Here are some strategies for how students can save money in college in each of these categories.

How students can save money in college on housing

  1. Live at home. Avoiding the cost of on-campus housing is a big saving for college students. If you’re within commuting distance, consider living at home for a year or two to save costs.
  2. Have roommates. If you’re not able to live at home, splitting housing costs with others helps students save money in college. Living off campus may be a better option than living on, so do some price comparison before choosing your housing. 
  3. Go green. Keeping lights off, making sure faucets aren’t dripping, keeping temps down and windows open when possible may seem insignificant, but impact how students can save money in college. 

How students can save money in college on food

  1. Pay with cash. Credit cards have made it easy to overspend and accumulate debt quickly. Set a budget for how much you will spend on food each month and withdraw cash to accommodate your budget. 
  2. Choose a smaller meal plan. Upper class students have meal plan options that reduce the expense of food. Consider what meals are necessary to eat in the cafeteria and which ones you’re better off eating in your dorm, apartment, or home. 
  3. Team up with roommates. Split costs of food with your friends. Buying food in bulk at larger warehouse stores is how students can save money in college and stretch their dollars. 

How students can save money in college on transportation  

  1. Walk, bike, board, or scooter. Opting for these alternative modes of transportation reduce fuel costs and parking costs on and off campus. As a bonus, you get some great exercise, too.
  2. Use public transportation. If you need to go further than self-propelled transportation will take you, choose public transportation. Grab the campus bus for a run to the grocery store or use the available transportation system in your community. 
  3. Split a ride. Grab an Uber with friends if other options are unavailable. Rideshare to and from campus or find others to commute with if you live off-site to reduce parking costs on campus. 

How students can save money in college on tuition & supplies

  1. Apply for scholarships. Besides FAFSA, search your local communities for scholarship opportunities. While some claim billions are left on the table each year, others claim this is a myth. Regardless, there is funding assistance for college students.
  2. Buy used textbooks. Choose used textbooks or rent them whenever possible. Or share a textbook with a classmate. Textbooks account for a significant expense, so alternative options help students save money in college. 
  3. Consider community college. If willing, students can take general ed credits at a local college before attending their preferred school. This option can save thousands for college students and help avoid the accumulated debt upon college graduation. 

College expenses can lead to debt very quickly. Wise planning can prevent years of payments and help students save money in college and beyond.