Going to college is a unique experience where you learn new things, gain new skills, make new friends and earn a degree that hopefully helps you in the working world. Unfortunately, college isn’t free. Including tuition, books and supplies, rent, food, clothes and transportation, college costs add up. Students should try to cut their costs any way they can, including finding a way to live rent free while attending college.

Live with relatives. Ask relatives living close to your campus whether you can live with them while you finish college. Parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and other family members are all possibilities for helping you out.

Barter services in exchange for your rent. Participate in a local home-sharing program where you provide services in lieu of rent; for example, cleaning a home you share with a senior citizen. Place your own ad on a classified advertising website or in the classified ad section of a newspaper proposing to barter services in exchange for a private room. Consider listing some of the services you could offer, such as cooking, cleaning or lawn care.

Live in a camper van. Buy a used camper van and live in it while you complete your studies. Park it in different locations near the campus, making your commute to your college classes shorter. A camper van with a built-in toilet and shower is ideal; one without them is also an option. Buy a portable camping toilet for your overnight needs, one that can be emptied later. Shower in your college gym’s locker rooms or buy a membership to a local gym and shower there.

Apply for and obtain college grants. Students from families with lower incomes are eligible for grant money from the federal government, such as a Federal Pell Grant. Apply for financial aid using a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Apply online or use a paper application available at most colleges. Submit the application. In response, you will receive a federal student aid report detailing the amount of grant money the federal government will give you. If you receive grant money, use it to pay your rent.

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