Saturday, March 21, 2009

Money-Saving Tips for College Students and Their Parents

This time last year, my oldest son was contemplating colleges, majors, and finances. I’m thrilled that the choice he made turned out to be the perfect one for him! He loves his university and his field of study, and his scholarships and prepaid college plan have definitely come in handy. But for anyone with a student in college, or soon to be in college, money is always a big issue, especially in today’s tough economy. So I asked Marie Pinak Carr, who coauthored the book, Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual, with her daughters, Katharine Carr, Ann Carr and Elizabeth Carr, to give families with college-bound kids some suggestions for saving money at college.

Ten Tips for Saving Money
By Marie Pinak Carr

This year, more than ever, college bound students and their parents will want to spread their spending dollars as far as possible. I have sent three daughters to 4 different colleges and here are 10 tips that will help parents save money.

1. Don’t pay for health insurance twice. Read the tuition bill carefully. There is often a charge for health insurance that you can opt out of with the proper certification from your insurance companies. Many states have laws in place that require all full-time students to have medical insurance. As a result, regardless of your current medical insurance coverage, you might be billed for the insurance offered through the college.

2. Remember to think green and reuse and recycle as much as possible when procuring items for the dorm room. Take advantage of the summer holiday sales. Target, Wal-mart and Staples have incredible school supplies sales in July. Stock up on school supplies, especially binders and spiral notebooks that college students need for every course.

3. College books are expensive, often more than $100.00 each. Remember that the local college bookstore is not the only source for these books and that there is a surcharge for the convenience. After registration and before classes start, have your child go to the bookstore with a pad and paper. Look up the books needed for a particular course and jot down the title, author and ISBN number. This will assure that you have the correct edition. Next search the best price on the web and at other stores.

4. Utilize the meal plan to the max. Rent a fridge/micro combination unit for the dorm room to fill with extra fruit, bagels, etc. that your child can procure from the dining hall for those evening snacks. Take extra napkins, prepackaged condiments, salt, pepper, etc. when in the dining halls and other fast food restaurants that you visit. Use these for those late night snacks.

5. Drink water. Buy a water filter and fill a reusable bottle. It’s cheaper, healthier, and will help avoid the “Freshman fifteen.” Tea drinkers, take extra tea bags and sugar packages from the dining hall.

6. Don’t forget to utilize the college print allowances. Most colleges provide each registered student with a set number of pages that they can print from any of the networked printers on campus. This could be as many as 1,000 pages per student per semester. This not only saves the cost of paper but also ink for the printer.

7. Use skype ( as a means of communicating. This is a free downloadable program that allows any pc to talk with any other pc anywhere, anytime.

8. Avoid fees for using another bank’s ATM.

9. Use the student discount. Movie theaters, bookstores, museums, and even name brand stores now offer students discounts on their purchases.

10. Leave the car home.

Marie Carr is the mother of 3 college daughters who has spent the past six years sending them to 4 different schools and to study abroad. She has been an active participant on three college parent councils and coached hundreds of parents of college bound students. Her book, Sending Your Child to College: The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual, is available in bookstores or from


  1. These are great tips! Here are a few other suggestions:

    1. College Insurance - Some colleges stipulate that the private insurance must pay for on-campus infirmary care. Many insurance plans do not pay for that, so you end up having to check on both ends. Furthermore, many employer plans do not cover kids past age 19.

    2. Text books - Kids can sell their used books on the Internet - a way to recoup some of the cost.

    3. Computers - Some students' academic requirements will mean that you'll need to buy several computers to keep up with the software demands. Have students check with engineering students to see if anyone is selling any used computers. They'll be perfect for probably anyone other than high-tech fields.

  2. Thanks for the tips. It is really important to save money especially nowadays where the economy is taking in harsh blows. College is undoubtedly expensive. Thus, college students must do all they can to stretch their budget.
    college financial aid

  3. Thank you so much these are great! Do you mind me linking you to my blog? I'm a college kid just trying to save money:)

  4. Hi Kelly! Yes, feel free to put a link on your blog. I'm so glad you found these tips to be helpful!
    Warm wishes,

  5. I appreciate the work of all people who share information with others.

  6. Great tips!I wish I drank more water while I was in college. ;)

  7. I wish this stuff had reached me when I was back in college a few years ago. Nice post and some great money saving tips!

  8. Nice post=) Author the best! Thank you!


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