Many collegians already know about scholarships, loans and student employment. Here are ways to save without a high GPA, lender, application or roommate’s Ramen:
Make the rounds
Attend campus happenings before, between and after classes. Semester kick-off events typically offer the most free food and school supplies, and local vendors (e.g., pizzerias and book sellers) are usually present. The key is not to be picky. An animal rights activist might not join the University Whalers Club, but he can still take advantage of the complimentary lunches and assignment notebooks they offer at college activities fairs. Lastly, be sure to stay until, or show up at, the very end. That’s when food leftovers and unclaimed supplies are distributed.
Never go buy the book
Book sharing, borrowing from the campus library (be sure to ask about interlibrary loans) and buying used aren’t the only ways to avoid pricey textbooks. Professors often have extras or slightly older editions that they are willing to loan. Also, utilize individual textbook websites, as well as book compilation websites (e.g., Google Books). They often provide access to books and other learning resources in their entirety, or at least enough to get through a class, for free.
Free trumps a bargain
Though they are cheaper than ever, don’t purchase external storage devices or online storage services. Why risk losing that disk or thumb drive and final term paper? Instead, e-mail all files to two accounts (a school and personal one). It’s free, provides backup, and saves time when one e-mail system is inaccessible.
Peek at campus garbage sites regularly, especially during move-out periods. Students are known for pitching items that can be reused and resold, even furniture, appliances and books. A Western Illinois University sophomore once found an old desktop computer in the basement trash of her dorm. With a little help from a computer science pal, she was able to use the computer until graduation.
Campus health/medical centers often provide free toiletries and personal products, including sample-size deodorants and toothpaste. Check campus residence halls, local stores and community centers for similar giveaways.
Finally, don’t blow off student surveys or the RA’s community-building efforts, no matter how silly they seem. Participants in an academic department’s research or a dorm’s floor meetings often earn incentives, like gift cards and college currency (e.g., ‘campus bucks’). In these instances, time is definitely money.