Two students talk and walk next to the light rail.
July 9, 2019

No one likes to waste money. And for college students, pinching pennies wherever possible is even more important. Try doing a little something each month to save money and support your financial wellness goals.

It can be tough to balance your professional goals and career dreams with the financial challenges of being a student. Here are 12 things you can do to save some money throughout the year, starting now.

JULY: Make a budget.

No surprises here. A budget is a guide to spending within your means – and you can’t stick to one if you don’t make one. Here are a few free apps and resources to help you account for all your costs:

A female is using a calculator at a desk.
Budgeting gives you control over your money and helps you avoid unnecessary spending.

AUGUST: Use open educational resources (OER).

OER are materials that are available online at no cost. Think: free text books. Not only are they free, but research shows that students who use OER often get their degrees faster. To make sure OER are an option for students, CU Denver teaches faculty how to integrate them into their courses through OER Jumpstart, funded by university leadership and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

SEPTEMBER: Find student discounts.

Another perk of being a college student: Lots of places offer student discounts, including stores, restaurants, museums and entertainment venues. Check out UniverCity Key for a list of CU Denver student discounts in and around Denver.

FAFSA form
The earlier you file your FAFSA, the more grant money you are likely to receive.

OCTOBER: Fill out your FAFSA ASAP.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available starting in October each year. It’s not due until June of the following year, but the earlier you file, the more grant money you are likely to receive (up to twice as much). It’s not a particularly fun form to fill out, but doing it as soon as possible may pay off for you.

NOVEMBER: Learn to cook.

On average, it is almost five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home, according to Forbes Priceonomics. Added benefit: When you cook for yourself, you typically eat healthier, more nutritious foods than what you eat at a restaurant. Look for cooking classes offered in the student kitchen at the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center.

Cooking tofu and veggie scramble in black pan.
On average, it is almost five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home.

DECEMBER: Take advantage of your university library.

You need: space to work on your final video project, a quiet place to study for finals, free wifi without having to order a latte. Your university library has you covered. The Auraria Library also offers about 574,000 print books, 326,000 eBooks, 93,000 online journals, 99,000 streaming videos and over 300 databases. And should you want a latte, the Library Café stays open late.

The Auraria Library offers about 574,000 print books, 326,000 eBooks, 93,000 online journals, 99,000 streaming videos and over 300 databases.

JANUARY: Work out at your campus rec center.

The average gym membership costs about $60. You know that your health and wellness are critical to your educational success, but what student can afford that? Take advantage of what you’ve probably already paid for: unlimited access to your campus rec center. The Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center has three floors of unique and flexible spaces to exercise, socialize, study or relax – including a climbing wall, spa, nap space, game lounge, three-court gym and patio balcony.

Male on climbing wall in the Student Wellness Center.
The 38-foot climbing wall in the Student Wellness Center overlooks the Mile High City.

FEBRUARY: Eat the free food.

When you’re a college student, a lot of people want your attention – and they try to get it with food. So, go to that intramural interest meeting or check out that on-campus film showing. You get a snack or a meal, and you’ll feel more connected to your campus community, too. First free food opportunity of the year: Block Party.

MARCH: Get an internship scholarship.

Internships are critical to launching your career, but many of them are unpaid. How do you pay your rent without a paycheck? Look for an internship scholarship. The Experiential Learning Center offers Unpaid Internship Support Scholarships to help students with unpaid internships pay the bills.

Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) has an extensive system spanning eight counties across the metro area.

APRIL: Take public transit.

With warmer temperatures, spring is a great time to start using public transit, if you haven’t already. Taking public transportation costs less than paying for gas and parking, and Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) has an extensive system spanning eight counties across the metro area. CU Denver students get an EcoPass that allows for unlimited rides on all RTD buses and Light Rail trains.

MAY: Take summer classes.

Taking more classes per year means you could graduate sooner – and be on your way to a solid salary sooner. And when you take summer classes, your textbook costs might be lower, because it’s easier to find used books when there are fewer students competing for them. Be sure to check with your scholarship providers and the financial aid office to confirm that Summer Session works with your financial plan.

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