How To Save Money as a UChicago Student

College living is expensive. Here are a few budget-trimming tips.


Mixed Media. Seen from the Green Line on a cold February night.

By Maroon Staff

Be creative about buying books. You can check out class books at the library, and even order unavailable books via interlibrary loan. 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 also try searching online for a pdf version, 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.)

Learn to budget. Apps like Mint and PocketGuard can help you plan wisely and guard against spending too much.

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, etc. 

$1 goes a long way. For one Washington, you can get a donut at Ex Libris, bread and pastries at Medici after 10 p.m. every night except Saturday, and shakes in Reynolds Club on Wednesdays. Follow UChicago Free Food Watch on Facebook 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.

Beware of 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. 

Avoid Uber. Your U-Pass 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. If you need to make a big Target or grocery run, rent a Zipcar with friends. 

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. 

Sell something on Marketplace. The 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. 

Earn spare change as a lab guinea pig. At the Center for Decision Research, located on the lower level of Booth, you can take short surveys from 12–6 p.m., Monday through Friday, for an average of $10 to $12 per hour. Look out for on-campus psychology and linguistics studies that also often look for paid participants.