By Edna Htet

Let’s face it, College is expensive. Four years (or more) of tuition, books, school supply, coffee and late night junk food runs can really leave a hole in your wallet. Though giving up and simply “not going” seems like the best way to avoid college debt, here are some tips and tricks that may ease the pain.


1. Free stuff from the web

Microsoft Word, Spotify and most other applications have free trials for a certain amount of time. Amazon Prime and Amazon Student also give out free trials that provide you with discounts and free two-day shipping. Willamette has a free anti-virus system for PC’s: ask for it at the WITS office, located in Smullin. You can even join the Willamette Free and For Sale group on Facebook for discounted goodies.


2. Summer productivity

If staying home for the summer is a solid plan, consider taking summer classes at a local community college. Most classes will count toward graduation as needed or as electives. You can also petition to fulfill some MOI classes and WC classes.


3. Compass cash

The Compass Card contains more than just meal points. It can hold your cash and save you some, too. If you don’t have a meal plan, or if you ran out of meal points, use Compass Cash for your food purchases. “Compass Cash purchases at Cat Cavern, Kaneko Cafe and Goudy Commons receive a 10 percent discount posted at the register at time of purchase” (Compass Card FAQ).


4. Fun on and off campus

There are many events around campus that are free for students, whether it’s in your hall, campus wide or in the neighboring communities. Events like Midnight Breakfast, Quad Fest, open mic nights, movie screenings and the Fall Festival provide a fun and entertaining setting for you and your friends to hang out, without added costs. Most of the time free food is involved for an added bonus.

There are plenty of places in Salem for entertainment, such as Cinebarre (on Marion Street), which offers $6 movies Monday through Thursday. Getting rewards cards and punch cards at neighborhood places such as Safeway, Dutch Bros, Bentley’s, Walgreens and Frozation can ultimately get you free drinks and sweet discounts.


5. Willamette resources

Take advantage of the free facilities and services Willamette has to offer, such as the Sparks Center, Writing Center and WITS. You can expand on your academics by applying for grants and scholarships made available to students through SAGA (Student Awards and Grants Association). If you are a driver, look into carpooling because it makes parking passes cheaper. On weekends, you can park for free behind the sorority houses. Willamette also has campus-wide Wi-Fi. Always connect your devices to WU’s Wi-Fi, instead of using up your own data.


6. Textbooks

Buying textbooks has always been a struggle, but with the power of Amazon.com, Chegg.com and other textbook-based websites, it has become easier to get access to textbook prices. However, don’t rule out the Willamette Bookstore just yet. Used books and books for rent are available with good prices, no added tax and no shipping costs.


7. On-Campus Jobs

There are plenty of job opportunities for student workers on campus, and some of them have special deals for student employees such as free food, free items or discounts. Being a Community Mentor, for example, provides a free year of residence and meal plan as a stipend. Their responsibilities include promoting community life, collaboration, representing Willamette and Residential Life and serving as a role model. Growing as an individual and becoming a resource for other students can really pay off.


8. Use your meal points

You’ve already paid for your meal points, so why not use them? Meal points don’t transfer over into the next year, so use it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks at Goudy Commons, Kaneko Cafe, Cat Cavern or Montag Center.


9. Take time to budget

A coffee here, a notebook there and suddenly the monthly budget is gone. Writing down what you spend helps you keep track of expenditures, and also shows where you can cut back on spending. There are also apps that help you keep track of your spending, such as Mint.com, Budget Ease and Level Money


10. Get Creative

Getting tired of eating at the same place? Get creative. Make a sandwich with ingredients from the salad bar. Grab a tortilla and put your own fillings on them: fries, meatloaf and the works. Mix drinks at the beverage station (apricot-peach, cranberry and Sierra Mist is a great combination to start with). The possibilities are endless.


11. Student discounts

Bring your student ID with you wherever you go, because many businesses offer student discounts, including movie theaters, restaurants, electronics and clothing stores and many more. Ask if the business offers a student discount, as many do not advertise it. You can also use your Willamette email address to access student deals across the web. Places around, such as Crema, Taj Mahal, Love Love Teriyaki and H&M offer student discounts. If you sign up for newsletters on Best Buy with your Willamette email, there are weekly student deals such as discounts on tablets and computers.