College is expensive. Even if you have your tuition and room and board covered by scholarships and financial aid, it can still be difficult to survive financially while in school. After these costs, there are plenty of other costs associated with getting an education, from buying textbooks and school supplies to having the right professional clothes for an internship.

Additionally, college students may occasionally want to grab a bite to eat with their friends, see a movie or go to an exhibit at a local museum. Coming up with the money to pay for these things can be hard, especially for college students who do not have a job. This is exactly why it's important to utilize student discounts whenever you have the chance, though sometimes finding those discounts can be challenging.

Get Your Student ID

If you want to be able to utilize student discounts as a college student, it is important that you always carry your student ID with you. Your student ID is not only necessary for entering places on campus or buying food at the dining hall, but it is also required by most places if you want to obtain a student discount.

Your student ID is what workers will use to check whether or not you are eligible for a discount. If you don't have your student ID with you, consider keeping a photo of it on your phone, as sometimes that may be acceptable instead.

Have an .Edu Email Address

In addition to presenting your student ID to get a student discount, you may also need your .edu email address. While many people like to keep their student emails separated from their regular emails, having an .edu email address is often one of the best ways to access online-only discounts for students. It also may be required for in-store purchases. Ultimately, an .edu email address not only helps you get discounts, but it can also help you keep all of your discounts organized in one place.

Best Student Discounts at Bookstores

College students need books. If your professors require you to have textbooks for the courses they're teaching, that can add up very quickly. One textbook can cost well over $100, and if you need to buy several of them, that can eat away at your money very quickly. Some student loans will cover the cost of textbooks. Otherwise, you will need to be on the lookout for the best student discounts you can use at bookstores:

  • Waterstone's: This British bookstore chain offers students 5 percent off every transaction. You can also earn points with each purchase through their Student Plus card.

  • Amazon: Amazon is a great place for students to buy whatever they need for school at a price that's already heavily discounted compared to buying at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Students can get an additional discount by signing up for Prime Student, which has free two-day shipping in their six-month trial as well as exclusive deals and savings.

While these are some of the only bookstores that have exclusive discount programs for students, there are tons of other options that are directed at students who want to save money on their school supplies. Places like Chegg, ManyBooks.net and Boundless have textbooks for rent, used textbooks or e-book versions of textbooks. While they don't have a student discount program, bookstores like Barnes & Noble and WHSmith do offer discounts on items directed to students every so often.

Best Student Discounts on Technology and Miscellaneous Items

Though textbooks are often an inevitable part of attending college, these days, students utilize digital technology in their academics and in their daily life more than anything else. Whether it's a laptop, a phone, a tablet or a video game with which to relax after a long day of classes, students can get discounts on technology depending on where they go:

  • Best Buy: Best Buy occasionally has discounts for students. For instance, in 2018, they had a back-to-school deal on Apple products, saving students $50 off. They also have the Best Buy Student Discount program that can help students save a lot of money on products over time.

  • Target: Target occasionally has discounts for students at around 15 percent off.

  • Apple: Apple has various discounts for education programs, such as $200 off a new Mac.

  • T-Mobile: This phone company offers a student discount on initial phone purchases, around $60. (Also, check other phone companies like Sprint or AT&T.)

  • Samsung: Students shopping online can save around 40 percent.

  • Adobe: A discount for Adobe products is offered to students and teachers, but some restrictions apply.

  • Microsoft: Office 365 Education offers students and educators all the best Microsoft Office tools by signing up with an .edu email address.

  • Spotify: Sign up with an .edu email address to get your subscription at half price.

Best Student Discounts on Clothes and Accessories

Clothes aren't always a major priority to college students, as it's not uncommon to see college students wearing hoodies and sweatpants to class, especially in colder cities. However, clothes shopping is fun and sometimes necessary if you have a special event on campus for which you need to dress nicely. Luckily, there are places where you can get student discounts on clothes:

  • Banana Republic: Banana Republic has a 15 percent discount for students.

  • J Crew: J Crew has a 15 percent discount for students.

  • Old Navy: Old Navy has frequent student discounts, especially before the school year starts.

  • Alex + Ani: Students can get 10 percent off in-store purchases.

  • Charlotte Russe: Students can get 10 percent off.

  • Levi's: Levi's offers a 15 percent student discount.

  • Ann Taylor: Ann Taylor offers a 15 percent student discount.

  • Forever 21: Forever 21 offers a 10 percent discount to students.

Best Student Discounts at Restaurants

If there's anything that college students love to do, it's eat. Though students will certainly be fed if they live on campus, the options available at the dining hall tend to get repetitive. Eating out with friends is a break from the routine in meals and is also a fun thing to do. Unfortunately, eating out at restaurants can sometimes be cost prohibitive to college students unless the institution has discounts available to students.

These are just a few restaurants that offer college student discounts for food from 10 to 20 percent off:

  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Kroger
  • McDonald's
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Waffle House
  • TCBY
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Buca di Beppo

Not all locations will offer student discounts, but if the restaurant exists in or around a college town, it's more likely that they will. In either case, it's definitely worth asking if a student discount exists no matter what restaurant or grocery store you go to.

Best Student Discounts for Travel

Some college students like to travel on their breaks, and others don't have a choice because they are going to school far away from their families. For most college students, the idea of traveling is usually entirely off limits. However, with student discounts through travel companies, students can pay less money for that flight to their study abroad or spring break destination or that bus home for the holidays.

  • STA Travel: Students can get big discounts on flights and vacation packages.

  • Megabus: Megabus has unidays when you can get $3 off every ticket.

  • Greyhound: Students get 15 percent off.

  • Peter Pan: Students get 15 percent off on unidays.

  • Amtrak: Students get 15 percent off in the Midwest.

  • AAA: Students can get 20 percent off their car insurance.

Best Student Discounts for Entertainment

Whether you go to a party school or not, students sometimes want to get off campus and enjoy other activities that don't involve huddling up in someone's dorm room. From going to the movies to visiting a museum or doing an escape room, there are many entertainment places that offer discounts to students:

  • AMC: Some AMC theaters have certain days on which they offer discounts to students or general discounts of a few dollars off the regular price of a ticket.

  • Museums: Most museums around the country offer student discounts or even free entry to those who present a student ID. However, check before you go because it may only be offered on certain days of the week.

  • Bowling: Many local bowling alleys may offer discounts to students or have certain days when the prices for students are cheaper.

  • Concerts: Some local concerts may offer discounts to students.

  • Rock climbing: Some rock-climbing gyms might have college nights or discounts on monthly membership.

  • Sporting events: Many sport teams offer discounts on tickets, especially if you sign up with your .edu email address. Remember that you can also attend games on your campus for free too.

  • Shows: Many local theaters offer discounts to students. Even Broadway has a "student rush" that offers discounted tickets to students who are flexible about what show they want to see. 

How to Stay Up to Date on Discounts

It's great news that there are so many places where students can shop and receive a discount. However, keeping track of all the places to get discounts can be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, there are several places where students can sign up to receive updates about discounts or apply for a membership that will give them access to student discounts at all participating places:

  • MyUNiDAYS: Download and sign up for the MyUNiDAYS app available through Apple and Android. They have all the latest information on exclusive student discounts.

  • Student Advantage: This is an app membership program where you can get access to information on tons of student discounts, from shopping to restaurants. You can also get $100 worth of travel credits to use toward hotel stays.

In addition to having these apps readily available, you can do a simple web search of the place you want to visit with "student discount" at the end to see what's available.

Tips for Getting Student Discounts

There are many places that offer student discounts that are not on this list as well as places you may not even think of. That's why it's worth asking for a student discount no matter where you go. Using student discounts can help you save a lot of money over time, and they make it possible for students to make the most of their college experience when they may already be under extreme financial pressures.

Your university may also have discounts to certain places or events in the local area, which can be accessed by visiting the student activities center or a similar place on campus. Often, the school is a participant in the local community, and businesses offer discounts to college students to encourage people to spread the word and thereby drive more traffic to the business. Of course, offering discounts to college students is simply a nice gesture for those that want to stand out in their community.

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