Money, budget, office laptop, cash, money calculator, loan, debt, credit

Last updated Jun. 28, 2024 by Peter Jakes

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s financial circumstances, with college students being among the hardest hit. Many students lost part-time jobs, internships were canceled, and the economic uncertainty has created an urgency to save money wherever possible. Here are several strategies to help college students manage their finances more effectively during these challenging times.

Utilize Campus Resources

Most colleges and universities offer a variety of free resources that can be helpful for students looking to cut down costs.

1. Financial Aid Office: Speak to your university’s financial aid office about emergency grants or additional support. They often have information on scholarships, grants, and other financial aid programs that can help cover expenses.

2. Food Pantry: Many campuses have food pantries where students can obtain free food items and essential hygiene products, which can significantly cut down on grocery bills.

3. Mental Health Services: Mental health services are often free or very low-cost for students, providing a crucial resource without the need to pay for expensive off-campus therapy.

Optimize Remote Learning

Remote learning can also be a cost-saving opportunity if approached intelligently.

1. Digital Textbooks and Resources: Utilize digital textbooks to save money compared to physical books. Websites like Project Gutenberg offer free eBooks, and other sites can help you find discounted or rental options.

2. Student Discounts: Many software companies provide significant discounts or even free access to educational software for students. Ensure you’re utilizing any available discounts on essential software subscriptions like Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, or cloud storage.

3. Free Trials: Take advantage of free trials for services that might be beneficial for your studies. Just remember to cancel before the trial period ends to avoid charges.

Smart Grocery Shopping

Groceries are a significant part of any student’s budget, but there are ways to make smarter choices to cut down costs.

1. Budget-Friendly Meals: Shop for ingredients for budget-friendly recipes. Consider bulk-buying staple items like rice, pasta, and canned goods.

2. Meal Prep: Preparing your meals in advance can reduce wasted food and save money. Plan your meals for the week and stick to your shopping list to avoid impulse purchases.

3. Store Brands: Opt for store-branded products which are often cheaper but of comparable quality to name-brand items.

Leveraging Technology and Apps

There are numerous apps and tools designed to help students save money and manage finances:

1. Budgeting Apps: Apps like Mint, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and PocketGuard help track your spending and create a budget that works for you.

2. Coupon Apps: Use apps such as Honey or Rakuten that automatically apply coupon codes at checkout and provide cashback on purchases.

3. Price Comparison Tools: Tools like Google Shopping and PriceGrabber allow you to compare prices across various websites to ensure you’re getting the best deal for your money.

Cut Down on Non-Essential Costs

Reevaluate your recurring expenses and see where you can cut down.

1. Subscriptions: Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. Streaming services, gym memberships, and magazine subscriptions can add up quickly. Look for the ones you rarely use and consider canceling them or sharing them with friends to split the cost.

2. Transportation: If you’re not commuting due to remote learning, you may not need a parking permit or a public transit pass. Consider suspending these services if possible.

3. Utilities: Be mindful of your utility usage especially if you are living off-campus. Turn off lights, unplug devices when not in use, and consider energy-efficient appliances to cut down on electricity bills.

Earn Extra Income

Finding ways to earn a bit of extra cash can also alleviate financial stress.

1. Freelancing: Websites like Upwork or Fiverr offer opportunities for freelance work ranging from writing to graphic design to coding.

2. Online Tutoring: If you excel in a particular subject, consider offering tutoring services online through platforms like or even through your own network.

3. Sell Unused Items: Websites and apps like eBay, Depop, and Facebook Marketplace are great platforms to sell items you no longer need such as clothing, textbooks, or electronics.

Seek Financial Education

Understanding financial literacy can go a long way in managing money better.

1. Online Courses: Many platforms like Coursera and Khan Academy offer free courses in financial literacy which can provide valuable knowledge from budgeting to investing.

2. Books and Blogs: There is an abundance of free or inexpensive literature on managing personal finances. Websites like The Penny Hoarder or books like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” offer sound financial advice.

Leverage COVID-19 Relief Programs

Be aware of the relief measures available specifically due to the pandemic.

1. CARES Act: The CARES Act and subsequent relief packages have provisions for student loan forbearance. Check if your loans are eligible and see how you can benefit.

2. Local Relief Programs: Many states and municipalities have launched relief programs to help residents impacted by COVID-19. These might include rental assistance, utility payment aids, or food assistance programs.

✓ Short Answer

College students can save money during COVID-19 by utilizing campus resources such as financial aid and food pantries, optimizing remote learning with digital textbooks and student discounts, practicing smart grocery shopping, using budgeting and coupon apps, cutting down on non-essential costs, earning extra income through freelancing and online tutoring, educating themselves on financial literacy, and leveraging COVID-19 relief programs.


What are some effective ways to save money on textbooks?

Digital textbooks, renting, buying used books, and utilizing your university’s library resources are effective ways to save on textbooks.

Are there any specific financial aid programs available due to COVID-19?

Yes, programs under the CARES Act and other federal relief packages offer student loan forbearance and other types of financial support.

How can I make the most out of budgeting apps?

Regularly update your spending, categorize expenses, and set clear financial goals to make the most of budgeting apps.

Can I find free mental health resources on campus?

Many universities offer free or low-cost counseling services, which can be an invaluable resource during stressful times.

Are there any relief programs for students struggling with rent during COVID-19?

Several local and state governments offer rental assistance programs targeted toward those financially affected by the pandemic—check with local resources for detailed information.

How can I reduce my utility bills while remote learning?

Simple changes like turning off unused lights, unplugging devices, and utilizing energy-efficient appliances can help reduce utility costs.

By following these strategies, college students can not only manage their finances better during COVID-19 but also develop lifelong financial management skills.

Similar Posts