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How to: Save Money in College

Updated on February 19, 2014

College is expensive. Between tuition, books and other supplies, and the cost of living if you decide to live on your own, expenses add up quickly. Here are a few tips and tricks to save money along the way.

Start at a Community College

If you don't have your heart set on a particular school, a community college is a great place to start to get prerequisites out of the way. They often work closely with four- year colleges in the area so it is easy to transfer credits. Double check with the four-year college you are interested in transferring to, to get a list of credits that can be transferred towards your major. By going to a community college first, I saved over $200 a credit. That adds up to a lot!

Buy Textbooks Online

College bookstores are overpriced! Before I buy books from there, I always check around to see if I can get them for cheaper., and are all great places to check for books. Amazon and allow you to type in the ISBN to easily find books, while on Ebay you have to type in the name and author. Many of the books on Ebay are also auction style. I have found books that would have cost me 60 dollars for 5-10 dollars online.

Craigslist is another a good spot to look for books. There may be someone who took the same class last semester and are looking to sell.

I also like to sell my books on these same websites when the semester is over. I generally will get more for selling them myself than I would at the college book buy-back. And it helps someone else get the book cheaper than buying it from the bookstore at their college.

Rent Textbooks

Most of the time I have found that buying a textbook online is cheaper than renting the book because I can sell it at the end of the semester, while you get no money for returning a rented book. Sometimes renting a book turns out to be a better deal, especially when the book is a newer published one. is a reliable website I have rented from before.

Ride the Bus

If you have a bus stop near your home, riding the bus is a great option. Not only are you saving money on a parking pass, but you are also saving money on gas. Some colleges also incorporate busing fees into tuition, so you can take advantage of a service you are already paying for.

If riding the bus is not an option, try to carpool with a roommate, or someone who lives close by.

Eat in

This is probably the thing I have the most trouble with. Eating out can be quick and convenient, and is much more appealing than cooking a meal when I have a lot of homework to do. Eating out is expensive and adds up though. When I know that I have a busy week coming up, I plan foods that are easy to make.When I know that I am going to be on campus for a while I bring snacks with me to avoid going to the vending machines and that cafe.


Be creative with entertainment. Become familiar with the area around campus to find free or cheap things to do. Another tip is to rent movies from the library or Redbox instead of seeing them at the theater.

What are some of the ways you save money in college?


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