It is easy to feel poor during your college years. After you pay for tuition, books, and meals you may be wondering how you’re supposed to have any sort of fun. Well, not too long ago I was that poor college student, so I can definitely empathize which is why I have compiled a list of my favorite free stuff for college students.
When I was in college I rarely went out to eat or got carry out. Occasionally, on a Friday or Saturday night, I would treat myself but only if I had a coupon. My college’s student saver magazine would offer valuable coupons like buy 1 get 1 free offers. To score cheap or free food, I recommend you snatch up one of those coupons, grab a friend, and take turns paying when you go out to eat with your coupon. Otherwise, if you can find a coupon, you can always use it for yourself and keep the second meal for another day.
Looking to rock out to new tunes, but don’t have the cash to download the latest hits? Did you know you can download free music from Amazon.com or Google Play? Yep, you can head over to Amazon.com to download free MP3s in nearly every music category including alternative rock, blues, country, pop, R&B and jazz. Plus every weekday Google Play offers a free song of the day.
Amazon offers even more free stuff for college students (or anyone for that matter) :-). They provide lots of free apps and eBooks. If you are an Android user, you can head over here to check out all the free apps currently available. In addition, everyday, Amazon offers a free Android app of the day.
If you are looking for some new reading material, check out all the free eBooks on Amazon.com. Don’t worry if you don’t own a Kindle, there are free Kindle reading apps available that allow you to enjoy these eBooks on your mobile phone, computer or tablet.
As if Amazon was not already super generous with all these freebies, through their Amazon Student program they are offering a free 6 month membership to Amazon Prime ($39 value) which allows you to get free two-day shipping on millions items. If you decide to join Amazon Prime after your free trial expires, you can snag 50% off the typical membership yearly rate of $79 and gain access to unlimited instant streaming of 40,000 movies and TV episodes and borrow free Kindle books. Also, Amazon rewards you with a $10 credit for every friend that you refer to this program. There is no cap on the amount of credits you can get, so become the big man on campus by spreading the word to your buddies about Amazon Student.
I know, you may be thinking, all this free stuff for college students is nice, but help me score some cold, hard cash. As someone who used a variety of methods to fund her own college (scholarships, grants, loans, savings), I understand the financial demands on college students. I encourage you to explore all funding options especially those that will provide you with free money (i.e. scholarships and grants). Will your grades qualify you for an academic scholarship at your college or university? Do not simply assume the answer is â€œno.â€Â There are often several factors considered when scholarships are awarded and grades is only one variable. Check with your college’s financial aid office to learn more.
Another great resource for scholarships and grants is the Federal Student Aid website. This site offers information about free money for college students such as the type of aid available, who receives it and how to apply.
Here are a few other ways that I’ve found free things for college students:
Lunch and Dinner
Getting a cheap meal doesn’t mean limiting yourself to tuna sandwiches and ramen noodles for your entire school life. By joining on-campus clubs and organizations, you may be able to score free lunches and dinners several times a week. Even if you just attend one club meeting a week, you could save as much as $50 a month in food. Another way to get free meals is to volunteer for alumni association events and attend student club evening mixers.
Several fast food chains, such as Chipotle and Chick-Fil-A, offer free sodas to customers that show a valid student ID. Don’t hesitate to ask before making your purchase.
If you enjoy reading the Washington Post with your morning coffee, then get free digital access with your .edu email.
Student campuses across America host free movie nights during nights at quads or campus centers. Check the campus events calendar for movie listings and enjoy a night out with your friends.
Several museums offer free admission to exhibit halls to holders of a valid university ID on certain days. Some examples are the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Make sure to check the website of your local museums for specific days and times.
Sporting Event Tickets
Several universities offer free sports tickets to current students with valid student IDs. My school even offers free bus rides to the football stadium and back to the campus. Make sure to check if you qualify for free tickets and get them early because they go fast.
There are two ways to spend the least possible on printing. The first one is to check with your instructor if you can submit your files digitally. The second one is to take advantage of the technology fee that you are most likely already paying. Check with your student union to find out which computer labs allow you to print for free and what the daily limits on free printing are.
Engineering, architecture, animation, and design students rejoice. There is no need to get illegal copies anymore – you can get free Autodesk software with your valid .edu email. The list of free 57 Autodesk programs includes the very popular 3ds Max, AutoCAD, Inventor Professional, Maya, Revit, and Fusion 360.
Microsoft is giving away its Windows operating system and other premium software, such as Visual Studio Professional suite, at no cost to university students with a valid .edu email. If you are in the field of computer programming, you can use some of that free software to submit your entry to Microsoft’s ImagineCup, a global student technology competition. The prizes start at $1,000 and, if your team makes to the finals, include a trip to Seattle and a chance for a private meeting with Bill Gates.
Welcome Back Events
College bookstores often host these events during the first week of the fall semester to welcome returning students and freshmen. These events are great for scoring goodies ranging from notebooks to highlighters to pens. Stock up on free school supplies that you can use throughout the semester.
On your first week on campus, you have to find out whether your university has a credit union. University credit unions often offer free checking and savings accounts without any monthly fees to students. Some even provide free debit cards and online bill pay. By setting up your checking account at your local credit union, you can be in your way to building a strong financial foundation and be eligible for a line of credit in the near future.
Even if you are attending school and financially independent from your parents, as long as you are younger than 26 years old, you can be kept on your parent’s health insurance policy.
International Travel Insurance
If you already own an International Student Identity Card issued in the U.S., then you already have basic travel insurance that covers you while abroad. This is very helpful to meet the travel insurance requirement from some universities and consulates. Some of the benefits include trip and baggage delay, repatriation of remains, and accident and sickness medical expense coverage.
If you are a U.S. nonresident and you are receiving scholarship or fellowship grants, you may be able to adjust your taxable gross income. When all or most of your grant monies are spent on tuition, books, and university fees, then you can include an Attachment to Form 1042-S to make those grant monies exempt from taxes. Additionally, some countries, such as China and India, have tax treaties with the U.S. that allow students from those countries additional tax breaks.
During tax season, many universities offer free tax preparation services for students. Don’t forget to check the requirements for eligibility, such as a maximum gross income.
Yes, you are reading that right. While on-campus student jobs may not offer much per hour, several offer tuition waivers. Contact your local student union or student center and ask how you can look for on-campus jobs that offer tuition waivers. Some of them may be available online, but other ones may be only available through that office. Ask around!
Drop by your school’s health center and stock up on many as you want. Just make sure to check the expiration date on the packaging, if available. Stay safe on the cheap.
Counseling and Stress Management Services
If this is your first time away from home, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Combat those student blues with help from on-site professionals at no cost. Some schools are even offering biofeedback centers to their students to help them measure and handle all levels of stress. The cost of counseling and stress management services is quite expensive outside of school, so if you need it, take advantage of these free on-campus services.
Social Media Freebies
Turn your social media influence into freebies. New York-based startup Sumpto has a reward system for students with a valid .edu email and Facebook account. The higher your Sumpto score, the better your rewards. If you are very active on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll start getting free stuff in no time. Some of the companies that have provided freebies include Party City, Kraft, Chobani, Red Bull, and Office Depot.
Does all this free stuff for college students now make you feel rich? Yeah, I thought not, but hopefully, this article brought to your attention at least a few new freebies you were not previously aware of to help make being a broke college student more bearable.
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- Zebra Education Inc.
- Mindprint Learning
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- Mabel’s Labels – Free shipping on all orders at Mabel’s Labels
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- Seat Sack
- Label Your Stuff – 15% off any purchase
- Discovery Toys