Budgeting for College Students: How to Reduce Expenses

Posted: August 10, 2021 | Author: Kierstin Pitcher-Holloway | Read Time: 4 minutes

Budgeting for College Students: How to Reduce ExpensesReducing expenses in a student budget can seem daunting. College students are faced with sizable expenses each semester. Things like tuition payments, semester fees, meal plans and living expenses add up quickly and can be hard to work into a budget. But before you just accept crushing student debt as the reality of higher education, consider trying these tricks for reducing your student expenses while in college.

Seven Ways to Reduce Your Expenses in College

Utilize Student Resources to Reduce Expenses

You pay tuition and fees in order to attend classes, but covering these expenses also entitles you to a number of student benefits and resources. For example, Southern Utah University has a wonderful Fitness Center with numerous free amenities and student memberships at an extremely discounted price. Students also have access to free resources like Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Financial Aid Office where students can get help filing for federal aid and loans, and Non-Traditional Student Services.

Be “Book Smart”

Textbooks can be one of the biggest expenses in college. Many students just accept this as a reality of college life. However, if you’re smart about it, there are ways to cut your textbook costs.

First, if you are looking to reduce textbook costs, consider buying textbooks from somewhere other than the university bookstore. Buying used or even new textbooks online is almost always cheaper than buying from the bookstore. Other options include buying a used copy or renting for a reduced price. For general education courses consider using the T-Bird Texts program. To recoup some funds, try reselling your books once the semester is over. You can sell online, to other students or through book buy-back programs like Bookdrop.

Apply for Student Scholarships

Scholarships are a great way to reduce expenses in your student budget. Every college student will agree the less tuition you have to pay the better!

Scholarships aren’t only available to first-year students. There are numerous general scholarships and private scholarships available for application every year. In addition to these general scholarships, there are other specific and miscellaneous scholarships. You can also apply to scholarships for things other than tuition like housing or financial assistance to help you reduce expenses.

Consider Alternative Transportation

Every college student has to figure out how they are going to get around. Whether it’s to and from campus, work or the grocery store, transportation is usually a necessary part of college life.

Luckily, transportation is an easy area to reduce expenses in a college student budget. So, consider alternative travel methods to reduce your transportation expenses. Even if you need a car to travel to work or back home, biking or walking to campus can save you money on a parking pass and gas. When it comes to going home for the holidays or a long weekend, consider carpooling with other students who live near or on the way to your hometown. You'd be surprised how much you can save when splitting the cost of gas.

Coupons and Cashback Apps

When shopping for groceries or dorm supplies try looking for coupons online or use cashback apps. One way to do this is to visit manufacturer websites like Betty Crocker or P&G Good Everyday for things you need. Another easy money-saving trick is to use retail store apps or cashback apps like Ibotta to reduce your shopping expenses.

There are also a lot of services and businesses that offer student discounts when you sign up with a student email or show a student ID at the time of purchase. Keep an eye out for these opportunities.

Free Activities/Entertainment

Reducing your expenses and sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you have to eliminate all fun from your life, in fact it can help encourage you to try new experiences that you might not otherwise. Reducing your entertainment budget forces you to find entertainment that is free or at a lower cost.

One great way to do this is by attending campus events. Many of the activities on campus also offer free food along with fun.

Test out of General Courses

Testing out of general courses can reduce your tuition expenses and stretch your tuition money further.


It takes planning and effort to reduce expenses in a college student budget, but remember reduced student expenses equal reduced student debt. Hopefully these steps will work for you as you try to reduce your college expenses.

Tags: Financial Wellness Student Life

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