Free and Low-Cost Resources to Help College Students Stay Afloat

Free and Low-Cost Resources to Help College Students Stay Afloat

BLOG_College2There’s no question that college is one of the most memorable experiences in the transition from teen to adult. It can also be one of the most costly with $200 books, incidentals, and accidentals — $115 parking ticket, $10 to replace your student ID, $15 for the on-campus comedy show (because after that week of tests and projects you need a reprieve.) Though the costs continue to rise, there are a number of free and low-cost resources that can help college students keep a balanced budget.

Get access free support services. The government provides a host of grants and free services for high school and college students, aside from those you would receive when applying for financial aid. Students can also apply for the Trio Student Support Services program (SSS) program, which provides support services to low-income, first-generation, and disabled college students. Recipients get personal and academic counseling, career guidance, instruction, mentoring, and tutoring. For more information on these programs, check out

Say buh-bye to high priced books. There are now a number of alternatives when it comes to paying for costly college book, one of which is The online marketplace allows students to rent text books for a faction of the purchase price. Students can locate their book by typing in the ISBN, author or title and then select how long they need to rent the book (a semester, quarter, or 60 days), which will determine your rental price.

Students can also visit Freeload Press, which offers free electronic texts in exchange for placing advertisements within books.

Get free food. Aside from attending drab campus events to stockpile free food, there are easier ways to fill your dorm refrigerator. The government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aids those with low income in purchasing groceries. More than 700,000 Americans joined the ranks of those receiving government nutritional assistance in 2008, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA expects an additional 1.3 million more recipients by the end of 2009. To learn more about SNAP or to apply, click here.

You can also check out Feeding America which provides a state-by-state list of food banks and soup kitchens.

Get help with your phone bill. Lifeline Across America provides assistance in paying cell phone and landline phone bills. If you qualify for the Lifeline program you can save at least $10 a month on your phone bills, depending on what state you live in and which phone company in your area provides this program.

The organization’s Link Up program pays up to $30 of a qualified consumer’s home phone startup fees (even if it’s a cell phone). For eligibility and more about the programs, check out

SOUND OFF: What are your strategies for cutting costs at college?

Renita Burns is a content producer and staff writer at