Surviving College On A Budget

Having a side hustle doing something you enjoy is a great way to earn some extra cash as a college student.

Before getting to college, I didn’t understand why college students always complained about being broke. I quickly found out when I realized how serious this struggle is, especially if you aren’t employed. Being a first generation college student, I didn’t have a warning of what to expect when getting to college. I’m sure there are lots of others like me and I’m here to give you some tips for surviving college on a budget.

Get A Part-time Job

Being a college student is all about balance and time management. Is it ideal to be a college student and work at the same time? Not really, but there are ways to make it work. By working a part time job, you won’t be completely overwhelming yourself and you’ll come out of it a few dollars richer. Also check with your school to see if they offer work study programs. Work study jobs are usually better in terms of scheduling you while keeping your school schedule and obligations in mind.

Get Scholarships 

Whether you get an academic or athletic scholarship, your bank account will thank you later. It may not seem to make the biggest difference now, but you’ll be more than glad that you saved thousands of dollars for tuition and won’t have to take out or pay loans back.

Find Textbooks Online 

College textbooks are really expensive on top of tuition, food, and other basic essentials. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on books you’ll probably only use for a semester, try to find free online copies of your book. You’ll be able to do your assignments and save money at the same time.

Eat At Home When You Can 

I’m sorry, but sometimes you have to skip out on dinner dates and eating out with your friends. The money you spend on eating out definitely adds up. If you have a meal plan and flex dollars, definitely use them. If you don’t have a meal plan, make food at home instead of eating out. There’s still nothing wrong with eating out in moderation.

Find A Side Hustle

Use something that you’re good at to make a few extra dollars. Everyone has something that they’re good at or something that they enjoy that could help others. Turning your hobbies into streams of income is a fun way to make money and do what you love.

Become an RA

Being a resident assistant isn’t the easiest or best paying job in the world, but you’ll have the luxury of working from home AND not paying for housing. Housing for a single year costs thousands of dollars. You’d be avoiding having to pay all of those dollars by being an RA. Just remember that this is a position that comes with lots of responsibilities and it isn’t recommended that you do this if it’s not something you’re totally invested in.

Nobody said it would be easy to get through college being a broke student, but it’s definitely possible. There are going to be days when you don’t know where your next dollar is coming from. Following these tips will definitely help lighten the load of your struggle. Good luck!


By Cierra Lemott, Sophomore, Columbia College Chicago

Instagram & Snapchat: @cece.kodak

Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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