Enjoy College On A Shoestring Budget

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Poverty and college seem to go hand in hand, at least that appears to be the case for many college students, but not for the school itself.

You may have scraped together just enough money to pay for tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses, but have little to show when the weekend arrives. Unless you enjoy studying in the media center on Saturdays and Sundays, you’d probably enjoy the occasional pizza and night out with your friends.save money

As cash poor as you may be, most colleges offer a wealth of free or heavily discounted events to students throughout the year. Even beyond the campus, there are some events you can take in that won’t set you back financially. Please read on for some tips on how you can enjoy college while living on a shoestring budget:

Sporting Events — Large universities have big stadiums and coliseums where fans, alumnae, and students gather together to root for their favorite team.  Ticket prices can get pricey to attend some of the more popular events, but schools routinely set aside some seats for their student body. Oftentimes these seats are free or made available to students for a nominal charge.

Theater — Is the Central American Child’s Choir planning to visit your campus? How about an off-Broadway production of a popular Broadway hit? Much like sporting events, students are typically allowed to sit in on these shows, on a first come, first served basis. To ensure that you get to view a popular play, consider volunteering with the ticket handling or serving as an usher.

Free Food — Short of dumpster diving for leftover desserts or other culinary prizes, why not join a club or fraternity and take in their frequent food bashes? Some clubs open their foodie events to everyone, so joining in is optional. Find free food at other campus events including open houses, fundraisers, you name it.

Check Bulletin Boards — Although so much stuff is now online (thanks, Craigslist!) campus bulletin boards remain a favorite place for students to post their stuff. Find free or cheap furniture, clothing, bicycles, and more posted. If your roommate or dorm buddy is getting ready to drop out of college, they’ll probably want to leave some of their stuff behind and may be willing to let you have some things for next to nothing.

Hitch A Ride — Need to go somewhere? Why not hitch a ride with another student? Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the person who you are riding with is isn’t some pervert or the Boston Strangler reincarnated, so stay away from people whose creep factor is evident. Be prepared to offer some gas money to the driver especially if that person can drop you off at home.

Of course, some of the low cost or freebie events may not suit your style or could be well, um, be beneath your sensibilities. Yet, when cash is tight and the opportunities are few and far between, thinking outside of the box can yield some fine savings and keep you from text messaging mom and dad to ask them to wire you some money.


Adv. — If you have already found the college you want to attend, get prepared to apply to that school in November. Otherwise do an online college search to find the schools of interest to you and print out a Summary Aid Map to help you plan your financial aid strategy.

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Categories: Personal Advice