ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Cut Expenses at University or College

Updated on January 12, 2018
SMD2012 profile image

Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.

Learn how to cut back on expenses at college or university so that you don't graduate with a mountain of debt.

Hats off to saving money at school!

A few smart money moves can prevent you from ending up with a lifetime of student loan debt.
A few smart money moves can prevent you from ending up with a lifetime of student loan debt.

Getting a good education can cost thousands of dollars every year. Thankfully, for most people, a college education turns out to be a wise long-term investment. Still, that doesn't mean that you need to waste money on college expenses that can be easily reduced with a bit of planning and money management know-how.

A post-secondary education is always a wise investment. Whether you’re paying your child’s tuition fees and housing costs in full or your child has found a way to pay for a portion of their education costs, here are some money-saving tips to help you and the new college student in your life make smart financial decisions while living away from home. There is nothing cheap about the cost of a college degree these days, but there’s also no reason your child needs to graduate with a mountain of debt either.

1. Buy used textbooks. Students can save hundreds of dollars on the cost of textbooks by buying used books instead of brand new text books. Check to see if there is a used textbook seller on campus or browse through online message boards, craigslist, or other classified ads. If you do choose to buy new books, keep them in good condition throughout the school year so that you can resell them at the end on the semester and at least recoup some of your costs.

2. Live on campus instead of off campus. Dorm rooms, albeit smaller than off-campus apartments, are generally cheaper and more affordable than rental apartments, basement suites, and houses. By living on campus, you’ll also be cutting back on extra transit or car costs since you’ll be living within walking distance of almost everything a student needs.

3. Avoid the credit card sign-up kiosks. Each year major credit card companies set up jazzy booths with giveaways, prizes, and other fun activities in an attempt to get students to sign up for a new credit card. Regardless of your child’s credit history, or lack of, they will most likely be approved for a credit card, even though they may not be financially ready for it. Try to find a way for your children to live on cash only during their first year away from home. There will always be opportunities to apply for a credit card later on in life, especially when students have a secure job and are in a better position to manage payments on their own.

4. Keep valuables safe and secure. Invest in a secure locker, safe, or lock box to store valuable computer equipment, technical gadgets, and other high-priced items in your dorm room. Avoid taking expensive jewelry or designer clothing items with you to school. Except for a few mementos that remind you of your friends and family, leave precious items and valuables at the family home.

5. Participate in social activities that will give you valuable work and life experience and keep you out of the pub. Having a fun social life on campus can be expensive if you don’t know how to keep yourself busy without hitting the pub a few nights a week. Try to find social activities, clubs, and groups that fit in with your academic goals. You’ll not only form a solid base of friends with common goals and aspirations, you’ll be developing valuable career connections and volunteer work experience. When you're taking a full-time course load, your time is already maxed out. Make the most of your college life by finding meaningful social activities that also help you meet your academic or athletic aspirations.

Saving money on groceries and daily living expenses can help students ease the cost of getting a post secondary education. Every little bit of money saved can make a difference!
Saving money on groceries and daily living expenses can help students ease the cost of getting a post secondary education. Every little bit of money saved can make a difference!

6. Maintain good grades. Getting good grades in school will help you take advantage of as many scholarship and bursary opportunities as you can. Grants, scholarship applications, and bursaries don’t just crop up at the beginning of the school year. Nor are they found just on campus or through traditional granting avenues. Small businesses, community groups, and associations offer grants to qualified students throughout the year so always keep your ear to the ground and your resume updated. By maintaining a transcript of glowing grades you’ll be in a good position to apply for scholarships as frequently as they pop up. As well, many schools have practicum programs that allow students to get paid work with reputable, pre-screened companies while the earn full course credits. The catch with practicum programs, however, is that many of them require students to have a minimum GPA in order to be accepted into the program.

7. Consult with an academic advisor at least once a year. Academic advisors are valuable members of your career planning team. They can work with you to ensure the courses you are taking will help you achieve your academic goals. By staying in touch with an advisor throughout the year, you can avoid signing up for courses that aren’t necessary or won’t be credited towards your degree.

By keeping living expenses under control, avoiding unnecessary debt, and getting good grades in school, first year college students can learn valuable life lessons about money, personal priorities, and academic career planning.

For most people, getting a college degree is a worthwhile investment.
For most people, getting a college degree is a worthwhile investment.
Instead of doing this:
Do this:
Buying new textbooks
Borrow them from the library or buy used books
Buying processed junk foods and snacks
Bake your own cookies, make trail mix, or buy in bulk and portion pack your snacks
Having 2 or 3 alcoholic drinks at the campus pub
Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink
Paying unnecessary bank fees
Find a bank that offers no-fee or low-fee accounts for college students

Should college or university be free for anyone?

See results
Borrowing books from the library instead of buying them can shave hundreds of dollars off your yearly college expenses.
Borrowing books from the library instead of buying them can shave hundreds of dollars off your yearly college expenses.

How did or do you save money while at college? Share your useful campus life budgeting tips in the comments!

Video inspiration: Budgeting Tips for College Students

© 2012 Sally Hayes


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)