Tanya Khanna, Purdue University Student & Peer Counselor
There’s no doubt that attending college is a significant investment, but a little bit of planning can help you save a lot of money. Whether you decide to live in one of the University Residence Halls, or in an apartment off-campus, there are definitely many options that can help students reduce their daily college expenses. I’m going to cover four ways you can save money while living in a residence hall.
Taking Advantage of the Meal Plan
Students living in most of the University Residences are required to have a meal plan. Choosing the most appropriate meal plan can be an important factor in a student’s college expenses. Sometimes it can be hard for students to be able to go to any of the 5 dining courts in between their busy schedules. Whenever I would have a short lunch break in between my classes, I took advantage of the On-The-Go options. On-The-Go is a great alternative for students with limited time, where they can grab a quick bite on their way to class, without letting their meal swipes go to waste.
Making Use of the Alternatives
Alternatively, most meal plans offer Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can be used anywhere on campus such as cafes, restaurants at Purdue Memorial Union and the markets, to name a few. I would save on my snacks, milk and other personal necessities by using my dining dollars at on-campus markets like 3rd Street Market and Tarkington Market.
Microwave and Mini-Fridge
Not every student needs a microwave or fridge in their room. For me, however, that was a necessity. During my freshman year, my roommate and I decided to rent out a mini-fridge and microwave so we wouldn’t have the hassle of moving it out at the end of the year, or splitting it up. I realized later how investing in a microwave and fridge at the start of college was a much better choice than renting it out. Renting it for a year is just slightly cheaper than buying a new one for the first time; but in the long run, it’s actually more expensive!
Saving on Dorm Room Essentials
Another way to help save money while living in the Residence Halls is by limiting the number of things you have in your room. Coming to college for the first time can be very overwhelming, and students aren’t too sure what they will and will not need in their dorm room. Buying too many “dorm room essentials” is one of the most common mistakes a freshman can make. I’ve made this mistake too!
I bought myself a night lamp for late-night cramming sessions while my roommate was asleep; however, I never even used it because the desks provided in the dorms have a tube-light for that. Even though many “college check-lists” say this is essential, Purdue students living in the residence halls can take advantage of the one on their desk.
Most residence halls offer cleaning supplies that the residents can use to clean their room, such as a vacuum or mop, so a student could benefit from the offered cleaning supplies instead of purchasing them. I took advantage of them and never had an issue with availability or functionality. Students may, however, want to keep a cleaning rag or something like that for convenience.
Purdue’s Residence Halls offer Wi-Fi in the rooms now! Students do not need to worry about getting their own router. The rooms also offer Ethernet cables for students! There are a lot of computer labs and printers (color printers too) available all over campus, including in each residence hall, so students can save on printer, ink and paper too. A small part of the students’ tuition is put towards printing so utilizing the university printers is a great option.
Whether you live on or off-campus, you can make use of the options offered to help reduce daily expenses. It all comes down to the your choices and preferences.
Do you have any tips on saving money while living in the residence halls? Share them in the comments below!