Everyone loves saving money, right? Since going to college is so expensive, today I am sharing some of my tips on how to save money and make money while you’re in college.
1. Apply to be a Resident Assistant: I lived in the UC Berkeley dorms all four years of college and worked as a Resident Assistant (RA) in the dorms for three of those years. Resident Assistants are older students who live in the dorms with the younger students and act as a mentor and guide for other students. RAs also help to create community on their floor by hosting events so that you can meet your neighbors. At Berkeley, the compensation for being a RA is housing and a meal plan. Many other schools provide the same compensation for their RAs and some colleges even give their RAs an additional stipend on top of housing and food! Having housing and a meal plan can save you a ton of money! At Berkeley, being an RA saved me around $20,000 a school year due to the high cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. As an out-of-state student, this was super useful to help relieve the costs of tuition. If you are in college right now, you should look up your school’s Residential Life program and see when they are hiring for Resident Assistants. If you are in high school, keep this job opportunity in mind when you get accepted to college and then look up your school’s program to be aware of all deadlines before going to college.
2. Become a Teaching Assistant (TA): At some schools, becoming a teacher’s assistant may be limited to graduate students. However, if your school allows undergraduates to become TAs, you should look into it. Just like the Resident Assistant position, being a TA usually has a lot of perks. My friend was a TA at Berkeley as an undergraduate student and his compensation was full tuition and a $1,400-a-month stipend. Your school may have applications you need to complete in order to become a TA or a position may be offered through your professor. Similar to an application, your school may have you work your way up to become a TA, where you would start as a tutor or lab assistant. My friend did not apply to become a TA, but his professor reached out to him because he was a strong student and had a good rapport with the professor.
3. Apply for Scholarships: Applying to outside scholarships in addition to submitting your FAFSA can be very beneficial in helping you save money. You should apply to a bunch of scholarships, even if the prize of the scholarship is only $500 or $1,000. This might not sound like a lot of money in the grand scheme of how much your tuition costs, but if you are awarded many of these scholarships, they quickly add up. Plus, the tuition you are paying for college is not the only thing you will have to pay for. You should not forget about the costs of textbooks, supplies, and other materials that classes may require. Textbooks and materials can easily be $500+ a semester, so apply for scholarships to help cover the costs of tuition and other college-related expenses.
We have periodic scholarship postings on our Instagram and Facebook pages about scholarships with upcoming deadlines, so you should check out our social media if you want to see monthly scholarships to apply for!
Additionally, you can search for scholarships through:
4. Don’t Eat Out Too Much: Eating out at restaurants can quickly become very expensive without you even realizing it. Before I realized it, I would have eaten out with friends two to three times in one week. This adds up and could be $75 - $100 a week on outside food when I have a meal plan. Especially if your college town is in an area with a high cost of living and if your friends like to eat at sit-down restaurants, it can be quite expensive. Eating out with friends is fun and trying new cuisines is a great way to learn about new foods. However, if you are trying to save money, you should try to limit your dining out to once a week or so depending on your budget. When hanging out with friends, you could do activities that are free. A lot of college students would be down to do that to save money!
5. Stop Buying Coffee/Boba every day: Similar to eating out, buying drinks like coffee and boba everyday also adds up. A standard coffee or boba is $5, so if you buy one every school day, that’s $25 a week, $100 in a month, and $1,200 a year! On a small scale, spending $5 a day on a drink doesn’t sound that bad, but looking at it over the year, that’s a lot of money. For drinks like coffee, you can learn how to make these at home or you could also purchase a coffee machine. Every once in a while, you may want to buy yourself a drink as a treat though!
6. Buy Groceries that Will Last: I do not have too much experience with buying groceries because I lived in the dorms and had a meal plan all of college, but if you do not have a meal plan, you should be using your grocery money wisely. It does not make much sense to purchase only snack foods as your groceries for the week because that is expensive and won’t create meals. You should do some research on staple items that you want to buy every week and you should be able to create meals with these items, like bread, eggs, noodles, meats/tofu, fruits, and vegetables. Since Sarah has lived off-campus, she will be posting heathy grocery and food tips in the future, so stay tuned for that!
7. Don’t Need Fancy Technology: Going into college, you may be thinking that you need all of the name-brand, high-tech gadgets in order to be successful. The truth is that you do not need to be spending tons of money on electronics. How you take notes is a personal preference, but do not think that you need the latest MacBook Pro or iPad to take notes. I took my notes via pen and paper all four years of college, so I bought inexpensive notebooks each semester.
If you wanted certain technology but they are out of your price range, you can always buy them used! You can look at places online like Facebook Marketplace, your school’s Free and For Sale Page, or through friends and older siblings to see if anyone is selling their used tech item. Just make sure that you do not get cheated or scammed.
8. Attend Community College: A way that some students save money is by attending a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year institution. Community colleges are much more affordable, where the average tuition is half that of a public university. This pathway may be something you want to research to learn more about to see what the right decision for you would be!
1. Get an On-Campus Job: Many students have a job while they also are full-time students in college. If you wanted to read about the benefits of having a job while being a student, you should check out Sarah’s blog: https://www.shcollegeconsulting.com/our-advice-blog/benefits-of-having-a-job-while-being-a-student.
For me, I actually worked three jobs during my junior and senior years of college. I was a Resident Assistant, a Campus Ambassador, and a Hiring and Training Coordinator with Residential Life.
Finding on-campus jobs is super easy and they are abundant! Here are a few popular jobs that students have on-campus:
Here are a few popular jobs that students have off-campus:
2. Tutor Other Students: Another way to make money is to tutor students on the side. A lot of schools offer tutoring jobs through the university, but you could also tutor on your own and charge your own rates. You can find students to tutor by posting on your school’s Facebook pages or through friend and family connections. Using your major and classes that you have taken and gotten a good grade in, you can advertise yourself as a tutor for younger students who are struggling in the classes you had success in. Additionally, you could tutor by finding elementary, middle, and high school students and help them with their homework or SAT/ACT studying. You may make more money this way because parents are able to pay more for tutoring than other college students.
3. Participate in Work Study: Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. Every college is different and not all colleges participate, so you should research your college’s work study program. Additionally, you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible. At Berkeley, certain jobs were for work-study students only, meaning only those with work-study could apply!
Rachel is the founder of Study Hall College Consulting. Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley where she double majored in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.