Saving Money on College Expenses

David Sung | November 7, 2013

College can be costly even if you have scholarships. After excluding tuition and room and board, other college expenses can really take their toll on a bank account. According to a College Board report, students at a public four-year college spend an average of $1,200 in books and supplies, $1,110 on transportation and $9,205 in boarding costs over four years.  Not surprisingly, many people look for ways to reduce these costs. We compiled money-saving tips to help you reduce expenses.


College textbook stores will usually buy back your textbooks for a fraction of the purchase price if the textbook will be used again the following term, which does little to help defray your initial costs. If your textbook is out of date and will not be purchased back by the store, investigate options for selling it online such as on high price of college textbooks is well documented. College campus bookstores are among the most expensive places to purchase books even if they’re mostly convenient places to get your books. Though textbook costs are rising, the amount of money spent on textbooks is declining as more and more web-savvy students are renting and purchasing used books or paperless digital textbooks for lower prices online.


If you find yourself eating ramen noodles for every meal to save a few bucks, you may be hurting yourself in the long run. Cheap foods such as ramen are typically very unhealthy, and when you’re already low on cash, getting sick won’t help the situation. With proper planning and commitment, you can eat not only healthy, but cheap too.

Make a list before shopping at the grocery store and stick to it. It’s smart to plan out your meals in advance and know exactly what items you will need to purchase to make each meal. If you don’t think you will have time to cook every meal, find a healthy recipe and make enough to last for most of the week. If you find yourself with ample free time, you can prepare multiple meals in advance and store them in the refrigerator or freezer for later.

Cooking meals at home is also much cheaper than eating out.  If cooking isn’t your forte, there are many great guides online that walk you through cooking cheap, simple, and healthy recipes. After you successfully follow a recipe one or two times, you can start adapting recipes to your taste and creating recipes of your own.


You already know that gas isn’t cheap, and every time you drive to campus you’re spending a good amount of money on fuel. Students spend an average of $1,110 on transportation over four years at college.  Save money on your commute to class by finding alternative modes of transportation. Many public colleges have busses that are “free” for students to ride to and from campus. If your college does offer “free” student transportation, take advantage of it because the money to pay for these services is probably coming out of your tuition.

Another great way to save money on college transportation is to ride a bike to class. If you don’t yet own a bike, your early college years are the perfect time to invest in one. Riding your bike to class every day will both save you money on gas and keep you in great shape.  You should also look into carpooling to campus with other students that live near you.

College is a great time in your life, but it doesn’t have to be expensive too. Do you have more tips on saving money at college? Leave a comment!

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