College Students Squeeze More Out of a Buck

Tuition, housing, academic fees are all costs that add up when you're going to college.

"You only get so much money to last you through a semester. So you start taking into consideration what you eat, how much you spend on food, how much you spend on books and just sort of rationing things out, for me it's been in a way I'm not used to, but I think I'm handling it well," said Christian Carrion, a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University.

So, students look for any way to save a little cash. The Student Advantage card is one option, offering discounts on food, travel and school supplies from more than 80 national retailers. Southern Connecticut State University offers the Student Advantage option with its university Hoot Loot card for an extra $35.

"For students living on campus, or even commuters for that matter, if they're living in the area, to go to local vendors and receive discounts they wouldn't necessarily have access to, it's giving them more bang for their buck," said Mark Waters, Director of Financial Business for SCSU.

Like getting 15 percent off on Amtrak. On a $100 ticket, it's a savings of $15 dollars or $45 dollars off for three trips.

"I've used them for software and different computer programs and for clothing and travel discounts, too. It really comes in handy when you're a student," said Kash Ziemba, a SCSU junior.

Another way to save money, instead of buying your books in the book store, you can rent them online from sites like The books are delivered to your doorstep. Then when you want to return them, all you have to do is send back the box.

"I rented some of my textbooks because that does save money. Like my calculus textbook costs $300 new and they only had new copies at the Co-Op, so I rented it for $50," said Dina Naiem, a freshman at UConn.

Students can also skimp on spending by strategically picking a meal plan. At UConn, there are three different ones to choose from and all offer unlimited dining hall access. The difference between the three is about $100 each.

"I chose the cheapest one because it did save me money," said Naiem.

"I chose the biggest one you can get, the ultimate meal plan, mainly because you get points with it and that saves you a lot of money because you can get stuff on the go," said Hina Samnani, a UConn freshman.

UConn Dining Services Director Dennis Pierce says students have to be realistic about how they're going to use the meal plan. You don't want to pay for something you won't use.

"You have to really look at how often you're going to take a meal. For instance, when you have a choice of having a 21-meal plan are you going to get up for that breakfast? As most college students, the answer will be no," said Pierce.

And if you find you're not using your meal plan as much as you thought you would, most schools give you a few weeks to change it.

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