College Has Its Perks
The Best Student Deals and Where to Find Them
We all know being a college student isn’t cheap. But it does have benefits, even beyond receiving an advanced education. Students have access to perks and deals no one else does, from online shopping discounts to free gym memberships – as long as they know where to look.
College students can get certain perks just by knowing what campus resources are available to them. Listed below are some of the most common.
- Health Services Many colleges offer various on-campus health services, including access to doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists and counselors. Vaccines and sexual health services are often available. Some schools even have specialized health practices, like sports medicine, acupuncture and rheumatology.
- Schools often provide discounted student health insurance plans, but students can opt out and get insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Some campus health services, like obtaining prescription medications or getting dental care, require comprehensive insurance, so students should make sure to have a plan that allows them to use campus facilities.
- Career Centers For most students, landing a desired job is the end goal of going to college. Career centers are available on campuses to help students find jobs and internships, prepare for interviews, and write solid cover letters and resumes. Students can also learn about potential career paths based on their interests and coursework, or, conversely, determine which classes are helpful for certain careers.
- Dining Halls Eating at the campus dining hall is not only convenient, it can also be a great way to save money. Schools tend to offer multiple meal plan options, so students can pick which is best for their budgets and eating habits. Some meal plans are set up so that students get a certain number of meals per term; others give students dining dollars that can be used at all-you-can-eat dining halls or at traditional, a la carte facilities. Another type combines the two and gives students a set number of meals as well as credits to use at cafeterias or even popular restaurant chains with on-campus locations.
- School Event Discounts There always seems to be something happening on a college campus, and students can oftentimes access these events for free or at a reduced price. Some schools let students into sporting events, plays and recitals with just their IDs, while others offer discounted tickets. Colleges may even have their own art galleries that students can visit. Furthermore, tent events and unpromoted events and performances can pop up at any time, providing free, spontaneous entertainment.
- Complimentary Gym Membership Working out is a great way to relieve stress, and students may find themselves in want of a good gym. Private gym memberships are notoriously expensive, however, and usually require initiation fees. Fortunately, most colleges have gym facilities that students can use for free. These may feature weight rooms, fitness machines, lap pools, running tracks, climbing walls, and even personal trainers. Classes and club sports double as social activities, so students can make friends while staying fit.
- Financial Aid Services Financial aid service centers are extremely valuable resources for many students. Students can visit campus financial aid centers for help finding scholarships, applying for financial aid, and filling out the FAFSA®. Students can also use these services to make sure they understand the details of their loans and are able to pay them off. Some schools even help students with personal finance issues, like budgeting and paying taxes.
- Alumni Associations Alumni associations are great ways for students to stay connected with peers and save money even after they’ve graduated. Many alumni associations have annual or lifetime membership fees, but some are free. Benefits include discounts on auto, home, life, health and pet insurance; continued access to college libraries; reduced tickets to school events; travel benefits; retail deals; and alumni credit unions and banking services. The number and variety of benefits offered by alumni associations is different for every school, so students should check them out to see what’s available.
College Perk Finder
Perks aren’t limited to on-campus events and services. A valid school ID can set students up with discounts on a wide range of goods and services. Here’s where you can find the best deals.
Getting student discounts is even easier with cards and apps that point directly to savings.
The Student Advantage Card can get students discounts at a variety of local and national places. Students can save on textbooks, car rentals, clothes, magazine subscriptions and even food. Colleges may partner with Student Advantage, combining the SA Card with student IDs. Otherwise, it’s $22.50 for a yearly subscription.
Through College Discount Cards, a school or organization picks 25-35 popular businesses near campus, and CDC helps create partnerships. Free cards are created and distributed to students who can use them to save at partnering businesses. If a school doesn’t have a College Discount program, students can download the CDC app and get discounts that way.
Getting an ISIC card is a great way to get discounts both locally and abroad. It essentially works the same way as a regular student ID, but it’s the only internationally recognized form of student status.
TUN is an app that students can download to find local savings. TUN shows discounts students can get with their IDs as well as regular promotions offered by businesses. Those who set up an account can receive free rewards. TUN also has a feature that combines student discounts with regular coupons to get students the best deals.
College may be the first time students have to tackle personal finance and budgeting. Fortunately, there are resources out there to help students stay on track with their spending and saving.
You Need a Budget can help people meet various financial goals, whether it’s paying off student loans, getting off a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, or getting out of debt. Rather than a static budgeting model, where users put in their income and estimated expenses, You Need a Budget is flexible and has room for adjustment. Students can get the software free by sending an email with proof of registration; a yearly access code is emailed back.
Getting a credit card might not seem like a good idea, but if used wisely, credit cards help students establish good credit and develop financial responsibility. Discover it® for Students gives $20 cash back per year for good grades and 5 percent cash back in certain rotating categories. There’s also a credit score tracker, no fee on the first late payment, no annual fee, and no over-limit fee. Also, late payments won’t raise the APR.
This credit card is similar to the Discover it for Students card, except that instead of getting 5 percent back on categories that cycle quarterly up to $1,500, students get 2 percent back at restaurants and gas stations up to $1,000.
Students may also want to look into other budgeting resources, like Mint or Toshl Finance, and credit cards such as the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students, Sallie Mae Upromise MasterCard or Journey® Student Credit Card from Capital One®.
Being a student doesn’t have to mean being stuck in a dorm. Good deals let students reap the benefits of travel without breaking the bank.
StudentUniverse gives students and people ages 18-25 special discounts on flights, hotels and tours. Membership is free and requires proof of enrollment.
Students who have either a Student Advantage Card or an ISIC Card get 10 percent off Amtrak tickets.
HTH offers affordable, comprehensive short-term and long-term health insurance for international students and students studying abroad.
EF College Break puts together trips around the world for anyone between 18 and 28 years old. The all-inclusive trips vary in length and include tours, guides, food, travel and hotels. Payment plans are available.
Many retailers offer discounts to students with IDs or .edu email addresses. Check their websites to see what savings they offer to students.
Students can get a free six-month trial of Amazon Prime, and after the trial ends, they can continue the service at half off.
When students sign up for a $40 Sam’s Club Collegiate Membership, they get a $15 gift card.
Whether for school or hobby, Jo-Ann gives students 10 percent off all purchases.
Students qualify for 15 percent off online and in-store purchases.
Students get 10 percent off with a Student Advantage Card or a .edu email address
FedEx offers 20 to 30 percent off shipping services with a valid student ID.
Software and Electronics
College students need their tech. These big software and electronics retailers offer some big discounts to students:
Apple gives students up to $200 off a Mac purchase, $20 off iPads, and monthly payment plans.
Students seeking developer and design software can use Microsoft’s DreamSpark program to get free access to the company’s developer and design tools.
Microsoft also offers students 10 percent off or more on PCs, tablets, software and accessories.
Academic Superstore is an online retailer that offers low prices on software and electronics to students and educators. Just provide proof of eligibility to set up an account.
Newegg offers a free year of Newegg Premier to students at qualifying institutions, and after the year is up, a Premier subscription is $20 off.
Textbooks are expensive, but knowing where to buy them can result in huge savings.
Online Warehouses and Marketplaces
eCampus offers low prices on textbook sales and rentals, and has a rewards program for loyal customers.
One of Chegg’s cool features is offering free, seven-day access to popular textbook titles while the book is in the mail, so last-minute buyers don’t fall behind.
Campus Book Rentals has free shipping, and the company even provides a return envelope, so sending books back is hassle-free. Rentals only!
Half.com is an eBay marketplace where users pay nothing to list textbooks and buyers can choose from whom they make their purchases. Half.com has feedback ratings, so buyers can make informed decisions about seller reliability. Rental options are also available.
Many online retailers have buyback features, so students can sell back the books they don’t need anymore and pocket some extra cash.
Deal Search Engines
Still think there could be a better deal might be out there? Students who want the best deal without the hassle of cross-checking every discount textbook website should try a textbook database site.
Affordabook compiles information from 20 different partnering websites, so users can find the lowest prices on the books they want.
Bigwords searches every combination of online retailer, coupon, promotion and shipping fee to find the lowest prices on textbooks (and most other things). The lowest prices may mean getting books from a few different retailers, but Bigwords can also show which store carries all the books a student requests, at the best overall price.
Professional Organization Memberships
Joining a professional organization is a great way for students to make connections with professionals in their field of interest, find job and internship opportunities, and learn more about their area of study. Professional organizations may offer special rates or deals for students who join.
The One Club is an organization for creative design and advertising professionals. Students receive many of the same benefits as regular members, but at less than half the regular cost.
The AANP offers discounted membership fees for nurse practitioner students, as well as scholarship opportunities, in addition to some of the benefits professional members receive.
The AMA requires that all members pay membership dues as well as chapter dues, so students interested in this organization need to either find or start a collegiate chapter at their schools. However, membership dues are heavily discounted.
Students seeking degrees in public health can enjoy all the same benefits as regular members of APHA at more than 60 percent off. They can save an additional $20 by opting to receive digital-only subscriptions to the American Journal of Public Health.
This chapter-driven organization offers student membership for $30. Student members who graduate college and want to become professional members get a free year of professional membership and a special student-to-professional rate thereafter.
For those interested in student affairs, NASPA offers many of the benefits of regular membership at a discounted rate as long as students are sponsored by another regular member. Membership and benefits can be upgraded at an additional cost.
… Additional Perks
Perks and discounts can be found elsewhere, too. Access to a college library means free use of journals and texts that normally require pricey subscriptions. Many magazines and newspapers, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Poetry Magazine, offer significant discounts to students. Museums, movie theaters and community events often give students discounted tickets, making entertainment more affordable.
Why Perks Matter
College can be stressful and expensive. Whether it’s saving money on textbooks, food and clothes, relieving the anxiety of finding a healthcare plan, or making professional connections that lead to a job, it’s important that students take advantage of college benefits while they can.
- The maximum Pell Grant only covers 61% of the average tuition at a public institution in 2015-16.
- The average price of textbooks climbed from $57 in 2007 to $79 in 2013.
- On average, gym memberships in the U.S. cost about $55 per month, plus initiation fees.
- Research shows that students who study abroad have higher graduation rates and return to their home countries with improved academic performance and cultural understanding.
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