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College is a time where self-exploration runs rampant. For most, it’s the first time you live outside your parents’ guidelines. It’s now self-motivation driving you to get to class on time, choosing whether to go downtown on a Thursday night or even whether you’re eating chicken or beef for dinner. College creates unlimited memories that last a lifetime, but the stereotype of “poor college student” came about for a reason. College is not free, and all that self-exploration can be expensive, so to break the long-standing tradition of being broke in college, follow these top five fail-proof methods for saving money during your college years.
According to The College Board, room and board is the second largest expense college students face, costing up to $8,535 per year. One of the most effective choices you can make to save money is to become a resident advisor for your dorm. Several universities allow free or drastically discounted fees in exchange for this service.
Students are often shocked when they find the poor return on investment on textbooks they purchased at the beginning of the year. In order to cut the average of $1,137 spent on books and supplies per year, purchase or rent used textbooks. Some university libraries allow students to rent textbooks for free. If that is not an option, websites like Amazon rent college textbooks.
Don’t rush off to find your own apartment the minute freshman year ends. Living off campus adds 10 percent to 40 percent more expenses than setting up camp in the dorms again. Off-campus living also includes the extra costs of utilities and travel.
Colleges boast an array of free entertainment to take advantage of. Student centers often play movies for free. Use the campus gym instead of footing the bill for a private gym. Take advantage of dorm potluck dinners.
Instead of taking a large chunk out of your meager savings for a hard-partying spring break in Mexico, choose an alternative spring break by volunteering in a foreign country. Most universities have organized groups you can join where all the details of the week are planned for you. Going with a large group to volunteer will save you money, and you still have time to do some sightseeing.
Experiencing college with limited funds can be less than ideal. Try to cut out extra expenses where possible, so when you do make the choice to splurge on a weekend trip, you will have the funds to carry out the plan.