If you’re getting ready to start your first year in college, chances are that you know you’ll be footing a hefty bill for the next few years. From tuition to housing to textbooks to parking passes, college is quite the investment.

Luckily, there have been tons of former college kids that have already gone through the process. Thanks to years of undergraduates trying to save every penny, now you have access to the must-haves that will save you money.

Some of these “must-haves” will be things you’ll automatically get when you enroll in your classes and start college. Others will be outside your regular tuition and fees, but they’ll save you money in the long run. Either way, you’ll want to pay attention to these few tips that can save you big bucks in college:

1. Library Resources

When you’ve already gone through orientation and enrolled in your college, you’ll have full access to your school’s library. Most university libraries have individual study rooms, group study rooms, IT centers, and hundreds of books.

But did you know that the books in a library include textbooks? That’s right. The textbooks that your professors assign you in the course syllabi are available for free at your university library—in most cases. Certain courses may require specific textbooks that aren’t at the library, but the vast majority are available. BTW, check the recent article with the list of 35 websites with free college textbooks.

Take a minute to look at the breakdown of tuition and fees from your school’s website. How much money do they allocated to textbooks? Usually, it’s a few hundred bucks, sometimes close to a thousand.

If you’re taking advantage of your school’s library, that’s how much you’ll be saving every term.

2. Alternative Transportation

Another way to hack college expenses is to take advantage of public transportation, bikes, scooters, and whatever else you like to ride. If your university doesn’t require you to live on campus for your first couple of years, you can save hundreds of dollars a month by renting cheaper off-campus apartments and riding a bike or the bus to school.

Some college towns even offer free buses or shuttles to campus. You’ll have to do your research based on your school.

If you’re willing to put the work in, you’ll probably find that even after adding the cost of off-campus rent, groceries, and a bus pass, you’ll spend less than if you were to live on campus and have a meal plan.

Also, universities tend to charge anywhere from a hundred to a thousand dollars for parking passes. Riding a bus, bike, scooter, or skateboard will save you the expense of a parking pass and gas.

So if you’re super dedicated to saving money while you’re in college, look into different housing and transportation options around campus.

3. On-Campus Events

Maybe you attended an information session or received a brochure from your college listing the hundreds of clubs and organizations on campus. Maybe a representative from your college assured you that you’d find somewhere you’d fit because there are so many options, somewhere you’d have a community.

While these are all great benefits of getting involved on campus, there’s one huge selling point they’re missing out on—free food! Many clubs and organizations meet weekly or monthly and provide free food for their members.

If you can’t find a specific club you’d like to join, don’t worry—there are other opportunities for free food. For example, most events hosted by your university will offer free food in some capacity. Whether it’s a taco truck, ice cream stand, or vouchers for your local pizza shop, many college events have free food available!

So how do you get the inside scoop on where the free stuff will be? When you first get to school, make sure you follow all of your college’s social media accounts. They’ll have outreach about every event. Soon, you’ll have a calendar full of activities and free snacks or meals!

That’ll save some money on groceries while getting you involved with your school. It’s a win-win when it comes to saving cash and making the most of your college experience.


4. Thrifted Clothes

When you’re on a budget, designer clothes aren’t the most financially responsible option. In fact, when you’re on a college budget, even department store clothes can seem pricey.

But let’s face it—once you get to college, you’ll probably want to represent your school with merch or buy new outfits for social events. That’s when thrift shops become your best friend.

When you’re first getting into the college scene, make sure to scout out nearby thrift shops. They tend to have trendier clothes and college t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other merch for a lot cheaper than you’ll find at local clothing stores.

That’s because college students and the surrounding population usually supply these thrift shops with their old clothes (or clothes that aren’t old at all).

So instead of budgeting for a brand-new wardrobe each semester, save a few bucks by thrifting locally.

5. Textbook Safety

While we already mentioned checking out textbooks from the library for free, you might absolutely have to purchase a physical textbook for some classes. Or maybe all the library textbooks are checked out, and you now have to figure out a new way to get your books.

You’ll have to spend money up-front to purchase the book, but here’s the good news—you can sell books back when you’re done!

With sites like BookScouter, book vendors will compete to buy your textbooks after you’re done with them. The better the condition of the textbook, the more money you’ll get for them when all is said and done.

That’s why you should make sure to protect those physical copies of textbooks at all costs. You could designate a specific bag to carry your textbooks in rather than potentially damaging them with everything else in your backpack.

You could also set aside a bookshelf or drawer in your dorm to keep the textbooks flat when you’re not using them. This ensures that the bindings stay intact and that you don’t spill anything on them. And don’t forget to bag them when it’s raining! Water damage will decrease their value.

Basically, if you have to purchase textbooks for certain college classes, do everything you can to keep them in good condition. At the end of the semester, you can sell them right back rather than waste money.

6. Student ID

As you know, you’ll get a Student ID when you enroll in college. But did you know just how much your ID gives you access to?

You could potentially save money on music or television streaming subscriptions, food, drinks, entertainment, and technology just by showing your student ID. You’re already paying for tuition, so you might as well take advantage of the benefits!

When you’re gearing up for your first term in college, research what your student ID can do for you. You’ll most likely have access to the school recreation center, which saves money on a gym membership. You’ll also probably have student discounts for surrounding stores or even restaurants on certain nights.

Don’t waste money that a flash of your student ID could have saved!

7. Command hooks

Many colleges and universities have some sort of on-campus housing requirement for incoming freshmen. That means you’ll have to live in a dorm at some point.

When you move in, you’ll want to decorate the dorm room and give it some personality. But you have to decorate without damaging the walls. If you do end up damaging the walls, you’ll have to pay for it.

So how are you supposed to hang frames and decorations without nails and other hardware? Command hooks. These small adhesive hooks will help you hang picture frames, posters, curtain rods, and whatever else you’ll want on your walls without damaging them.

You’ll be able to decorate your room without incurring any fees for damage.

8. Bulk office supplies

We already mentioned using your student ID for discounts, and that still applies to this hack. When you’re getting ready for the school year, check to see if your student ID will get you discounts at office supply stores. BTW, feel free to check the article about the best pens and notebooks for college.

If it does, take advantage! Buy the things you know you’ll need every year in bulk. For example, paper, pencils, pens, erasers, and notebooks. You’ll have a larger bill to start out with, but by the time you’re done with college, you’ll have saved a bunch of money on items you would’ve repurchased every year at full price.

9. Healthy sleep schedule

Last but certainly not least, you’ll need a healthy sleep schedule to save money in college. How does that work? Well, sleep is essential to your health. If you aren’t getting enough sleep or consistent sleep, you’ll get sick. And when you get sick, you’ll rack up some medical bills. Also, a healthy sleeping schedule is essential for a student’s mental health.

To set up healthy sleep habits, you can invest in blackout curtains, an alarm clock, sleep masks, or melatonin— anything that’ll help you stick to a sleep schedule!


There are a million ways to save money while you’re in college. Whatever you decide to do, just know that saving money NOW will make your FUTURE that much brighter!

Use price comparison apps, and other money-saving apps, try to avoid common mistakes college students make, or try to make extra cash in college. BookScouter blog will try to get you covered on all those topics (follow the links).