How to Save Money as a First-Year UChicago Student

Small changes, like renting books or using student discounts, can add up to big savings.

By Maroon Staff

Try to avoid the University’s bookstore. You can check out books you need for class at the library. If you plan ahead, you can use an interlibrary loan to find a book that the library doesn’t have. If the library doesn’t have what you need, use a service like to conduct a price comparison for buying and renting across multiple used-book sites. The Center for College Student Success will lend students donated books required for Core classes, bio topics, and physical sciences. Join the Free & For Sale Facebook page and talk to upperclassmen in your house to see if anyone is selling the books you need. You can try searching for an online edition, as many Core books and textbooks can be found on the internet. If you shop on Amazon, take advantage of the six-month Prime trial for students (Hint: UChicago lets you create up to five aliases in addition to your CNetID.) 

You have a meal plan. Use it. And on Saturday evenings, when the dining hall is closed, try to take advantage of the meals at Hutchinson Commons included with your dining plan. Consider setting yourself a weekly max budget for eating out that includes meals, coffee, treats, etc.  

For $1, you can get a donuts at Ex Libris, bread and pastries at Medici at 10 p.m. every night except Saturday, and shakes in Reynolds Club on Wednesdays. Follow UChicago Free Food Watch to get notifications when there’s leftover catering from an event. Ex Libris and Cobb Café give out free pastries when they close for the night.  

ATM fees: If you don't use a bank that has an ATM in Hyde Park, you can avoid withdrawal fees by using the cash back option at a grocery store or pharmacy. Alternatively, consider opening a second account with Citibank, which has a branch and ATMs on campus.  

Sell something on MarketplaceThe University of Chicago community’s buy-sell page, which was adopted last spring by The Maroon from Student Government, allows anyone to put their items or services up for sale.  

Don’t Uber if you don’t have to. Your UPass will take you anywhere in the city, including Midway and O’Hare. The Red and Green Lines aren’t the only ways to get downtown—also try the #2, #4, or #6 buses. Everything in Hyde Park is accessible by walking or taking a bus or shuttle. Public transit can be intimidating if you don't come from a city, but you’re hurting yourself by avoiding it. If you need to make a big Target or Trader Joe's run, go in with friends on a Zipcar.  

Student discounts: UChicago Student Government maintains a “Local Business Discounts” webpage where you can find a list of all the deals in Hyde Park for students, typically ranging from 10–15 percent at participating stores. A number of campus coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own mug.  

The Center for Decision Research, located on the lower level of Booth, will pay you to take short surveys from noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Like it or not, UChicago has forced students to think more about money when choosing how many courses to take, now that students have the option to take three, four, or five classes in a quarter, all for the same cost (prior to this year, taking five courses increased tuition). If you’re trying to graduate early, or you just want the most bang for your buck, you could take the maximum number of classes. Just keep in mind: You’re entering one of the most challenging schools in the country. And the quarter system can move fast, so make sure you can handle the work before daring to take five classes.

Suggestions for this article were sourced from previous Orientation Issues, our staff, and social media.

This article is part of The Maroon’​s 2018 Orientation Issue, which appears in print during O-Week. You can view all of our Orientation Issue coverage here. If you are interested in joining The Maroon this fall, please find information here