Being broke, financially clueless and stressed about money sucks. So let’s do something about it.
We’ve curated the very best apps, websites & articles to help you master your finances in college. It’s the most comprehensive list out there. Hopefully, this is the only place you’ll ever need to refer to when figuring out how to improve your financial life in college! 👌
Table of Contents
(2) Financial Aid, Scholarships & Loans
(3) Day-to-Day Savings
(4) Money Management
Did you know the average student spends $1.1k a semester on these? 😱
📚 Rent, Buy & Sell Cheap Textbooks
Amazon: Use Prime Student (6 month free trial, then 50% off) for free 2-day shipping. Can also trade in books for Amazon gift card.
Chegg: 21-day risk free returns.
eCampus.com: Earn points & redeem rewards. 25-day money back guarantee.
ValoreBooks: 30-day money back guarantee.
🆚 Compare Textbook Prices & Options
BookScouter.com: Compare prices from over 30 different websites.
Occupy the Bookstore: Chrome extension to compare prices directly on college bookstore websites.
BIGWORDS: Compare prices from all the best online stores at once. Can save you up to 90% from list prices.
🆓 Free Textbooks
OpenStax: Free peer-reviewed college textbooks online.
💡 Textbook Saving Tips
Financial Aid, Scholarships & Loans
💰 Get Federal Financial Aid
Federal Student Aid: Provider of the FAFSA + federal loan/grant options. Also contains many resources explaining the whole financial aid process.
💡 Federal Financial Aid Tips
The Ultimate Guide to Filling Out the FAFSA (CollegeVine)
The Ultimate Guide to Federal Financial Aid, the FAFSA, and more (Student Loan Hero)
Difference Between Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans (Student Loan Hero)
Find The Best Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan (Nerdwallet)
Top 10 Financial Aid Tips (Scholarships.com)
How to Consolidate (Combine) Multiple Federal Education Loans into One at No Extra Cost (StudentLoans.gov)
💰 Get Non-Federal Financial Aid
Apply for over $9B worth of financial aid (grants) with CollegeBoard’s CSS Profile: Available on Oct. 1 every year. Used by nearly 400 universities/colleges/professional schools/scholarship programs. Can give you aid you can’t get through the FAFSA.
🏆 Find & Win Scholarships
College Board BigFuture (web): Nearly $6B in scholarships & financial aid in partnership with over 2,200 programs. Free.
FastWeb (web): Targeted scholarships (over $3.4B) based on your strengths, interests and skills. Can organize your findings into lists. Free.
Scholly (web, iOS, Android): Fill out 8 simple parameters and get curated list. $2.99/month.
ScholarshipPoints (web): Earn points to enter scholarship drawings. Free.
💡 Scholarship Tips
🏦 Find Private Student Loans
💡 Private Student Loan Tips
The Ultimate Guide to Private Student Loans (Student Loan Hero)
💡 Other Useful Tools & Tips
The Definitive Guide to Student Loan Debt (The College Investor)
Student Loan Comparison Calculator (Student Loan Hero)
Student Loan Hacks: Top Tips for 2018 (Edvisors)
Federal vs Private Student Loans (Edvisors)
3. Day-to-Day Savings
⛽️ Save on Gas
GasBuddy (web, iOS, Android): Use Pay with GasBuddy (free) & get $0.15 per gallon off first purchase + minimum of $0.05 off every subsequent fuel purchase. Works nationwide. See crowdsourced gas prices in real time to find the cheapest one.
💰 Get Cashback & Rewards for Shopping
Ibotta (iOS, Android): Get cashback on everyday purchases by claiming offers and taking photo of receipts. $10 welcome bonus, $5 referral bonus!
Shopkick (iOS, Android): Walk into stores & open app to earn points. Earn extra points by scanning receipts or buying with linked cards. Redeem for digital gift cards.
Ebates (web, iOS, Android): Get cashback on purchases online and in stores. Purchase through Ebates. Receive a “big fat check” every 3 months via mail or PayPal. Get $10 welcome bonus if you spend at least $25 in first 90 days.
Drop (iOS, Android): Link your credit/debit cards via bank account, and automatically earn points when you spend at brands on Drop (like Uber). Redeem for digital gift cards.
Earny (web, iOS, Android): Get automatic refunds when price drops for items you buy from major retailers like Amazon & Best Buy (Earny gets 5% commission). Earn 5% of refunds from your referrals.
🛒 Use Coupons & Find Deals
Groupon (web, iOS, Android): Deal & coupon recommendations. Features restaurants, goods, getaways, experiences and services.
Honey (browser extension): Automatically applies best coupons when you check out online. Earn “Honey Gold” as you shop and redeem for digital gift cards. Get $5 when referral makes first purchase.
CamelCamelCamel (web, browser extension): Track any Amazon products you want, see historical pricing, and get notified when prices drop.
RetailMeNot (web, iOS, Android): Coupons & deals aggregator. Can earn cash back from online purchases with partners. Just launched the Genie extension, a Honey competitor.
The Krazy Koupon Lady (web, iOS, Android): Create shopping lists & save coupons (over 60 new ones a day). Get tips on how to “coupon like a pro”.
Cartwheel by Target (iOS, Android): Must-have to save money at Target.
Flipp (iOS, Android): Weekly shopping deals and coupons + shopping list.
👕 Buy/Sell Used Goods
Poshmark (web, iOS, Android): Marketplace for fashion. Buy used clothing at heavy discounts. Sell your closet items ($2.95 commission for sales under $15, 20% fee for sales of $15 or more).
Free & For Sale on Facebook: Well, most of you know this one. There’s usually Free & For Sale pages specific for each campus.
🍽 Eat Cheap
5 Dollar Dinners: Recipes that cost under $5 to make.
Budget Bytes: Recipes for small budgets, even broken down by $ per serving.
Spoon University: The ultimate destination for anything food-related for college students. Also have campus-specific content. You’re bound to find affordable recipes and food hacks here.
💡 Other Useful Tools & Resources
Seasonal Produce Guide: Buying vegetables and fruits in season = cheaper & fresher. Know what to buy each month of the year.
BlackCart: Choose clothing online from major retailers, try clothing on at home for free, decide in 5 days what you want, pay for what you keep, and return what you don’t want for free. That way, you can shop for clothing online without spending too much at once too quickly.
4. Money Management
🏦 Find The Best Checking Account
Did you know that the average checking account charges $10-$12 in monthly fees… adding up to $144 a year?! 😡 (via Nerdwallet)
NerdWallet Comparison Tool: Pick different criteria to compare different checking accounts for college students and find the best one for you.
💡 Checking Account Tips
💰 Find The Best Savings Account
Nerdwallet Comparison Tool: Pick different criteria to compare different saving account options and find the best one for you.
💡 Savings Account Tips
The Best Savings Accounts for Students (The College Investor)
Pros and Cons of Online Savings Accounts(GOBankingRates)
7 Tips for Choosing Savings Accounts when Interest Rates Rise (Bankrate)
💳 Build & Manage Your Credit
NerdWallet Comparison Tool: Pick different criteria to compare different credit cards and find the best one for you.
Credit Karma (web, iOS, Android): Get free credit scores (from TransUnion & Equifax), monitor your credit report, and get recommendations to improve. Has community forum + member reviews of recommended credit cards.
Credit Sesame (web, iOS, Android): Get free credit score (from TransUnion), monitor your credit report, and get recommendations to improve. Provides $50k in identity theft insurance for free.
Wallaby (browser extension, iOS, Android): Always know the best credit card to use to maximize reward, save money, reduce interest and avoid fees.
💡 Credit Tips & Resources
Credit Card Subreddit (discussion & tips from real people on Reddit)
Beginner’s Guide to Credit Cards (Finder)
Understanding Your Credit Score (Finder)
List of Credit Cards for People with No Credit (Wallethub)
How to Build Good Credit in College (Kristen Kuchar from Simple Dollar)
The Best Credit Cards for College Students of 2017 (Clare Butler from PT Money)
📱 Manage Your Spending & Saving
Pluto Money (iOS, Android coming soon): For those that want a low-effort but engaging & approachable way to manage money. Reach your saving goals by doing simple challenges tailored to your finances. Ex: Spend $50 less than your average on eating out this week & save $50 towards Coachella. Compare your finances to similar peers (even grouped by relationship status & college campus). Get notified when new transactions post. See all accounts in one place, and let Pluto automatically track & categorize your transactions. Free.
Wally (iOS, Android): For those that want to manually input transactions to track their money. Has basic budgeting features, detailed & customizable spending categories, and automatic location-detection for recorded transactions. Can scan receipts. Free.
YNAB (web, iOS, Android): For hardcore budgeters and disciplinarians. Assign every dollar a “job” & make sure every dollar is going to the right place. Free 34-day trial + 12 months free for students (with proof). Then one-time 10% discount & $6.99/month perpetually.
Truebill (web, iOS, Android): Track your bills, other recurring charges like subscriptions, and bank fees — automatically. Easily lower your bills and cancel subscriptions through the service. Free, or pay $2.99/month for Truebill Premium (automated cancellations, realtime account syncing, fee refunds from banks at no extra charge).
Splitwise (web, iOS, Android): Share bills and IOUs with friends, roommates, anyone. Make sure everyone (especially yourself) gets paid back. It even sends you email reminders so nothing slips through the crack. Free.
📈 Grow Your Wealth
Acorns (web, iOS, Android): Invest your spare change from debit card swipes into a diversified portfolio of ETFs of over 7,000 stocks and bonds automatically. Withdraw anytime at no charge. Free for college students with valid .edu address for up to 4 years from sign up date.
Stash (web, iOS, Android): Start investing with as little as $5, with money you can automatically save. Invest in ETFs based on themes that interest or inspire you (like “Clean & Green”, “Social Media Mania”). Investing $5/wk for 5 years can return you an average of $1,436 ($100+ gain). First month free for new investors, then $1/month (no commission) until you hit a $5k balance. They charge 0.25% of your account annually after that.
Robinhood (web, iOS, Android): Trade stocks and ETFs with ZERO commission, always. No account minimums, so you can start trading right away (as long as you can buy at least one share of a stock or ETF).
Wall Street Survivor (web): Take interactive courses on investing in the stock market, read their simulate real life investing with fake cash but real market conditions & participate in fantasy stock trading competitions for prizes.
💡 Investment Tips & Resources
Investopedia: Learn the basics of investing & stay posted with financial news
The College Student’s Guide to Investment Terms (Student Debt Warriors)
Best Way to Invest While In College? (Reddit’s /Investing Subreddit)
👫 Pay Others + Get Paid Easily
Venmo (web, iOS, Android): There’s no easier, more fun, more emoji-filled way to pay other people (like your friends) and get paid . And there’s no better feeling than finding $150 worth of pay backs sitting in your Venmo account that you forgot about. Good news is merchants are starting to accept Venmo as a payment method too. It’s the modern day version of PayPal.
💡 Other Useful Tips & Resources
How to Get Bank Fees Waived & Overdraft Fees Refunded (Scott Alan Turner)
🚘 Car Insurance
Metromile: Car insurance based on how much you drive (very low base fee + pennies per mile driven a month). The less you drive, the less you pay—ideal for students that have a car but don’t drive much. EX: If you drive 500 miles a month, you only have to pay $46. Also, all miles over 250 a day are free.
💡 Car Insurance Tips & Resources
🏠 Renter’s Insurance
Lemonade: For only $5/month, you can cover possessions that are stolen from even outside of your apartment. With the power of AI, you can also get claims taken care of in under 3 minutes. Charges flat fee. Any unused premiums from all members are donated to charities at end of year (they’re a B-Corp). Only available in CA, NY, NJ, NV, TX, RI, IL and OH so far.
GradGuard: Coverage is exclusively built for students and campus residents, with monthly payment plans and deductibles as low as $100.
💡 Renter’s Insurance Tips & Resources
Renter’s Insurance for College Students (Value Penguin)
Ultimate Guide to College Student Renter’s Insurance (The College Investor)
🏥💡 Health Insurance Tips & Resources
The Student’s Guide to Health Insurance (Best Colleges)
In School? Student Health Plans & Other Options (Healthcare.gov)
The Best Affordable Health Insurance for College Students (QuoteWizard)
Did you know: If you’re a dependent (which you likely are), you don’t need to file taxes if your earned income is < $6,350 & your unearned income (interest, dividends) is < $350. 😲
📑 File Your Taxes
TurboTax: Best-selling tax prep software. Its question-based interface makes filing taxes less dreadful and more delightful. Free for simple tax situations, but gets on the pricey side with more complicated finances.
TaxAct: One of the cheapest options. They offer a price lock guarantee, meaning you pay the price listed when you first create your return, even if the price rises by the time you actually file your taxes. Other programs charge you more as the tax deadline approaches. Also free for simple tax situations.
💡 Tax Filing Tips & Resources
Tax Guide for College Students (Simple Dollar)
College Students’ Guide to Taxes (GoCollege.com)
8 Tips for Students Filing Taxes for First Time (Nerdwallet)
Does Everyone Need to File an Income Tax Return? (TurboTax)
The Best Free Tax Software (The Balance)
The 7 Best Tax Preparation Software Apps (Student Loan Hero)
🙌 Enjoy Student-Exclusive Travel Deals
StudentUniverse: Access crazy discounts exclusive to college students on flights, hotels & tours—thanks to special partnerships with 90+ airlines. Works for both individual and group travel.
STA Travel: Similar to StudentUniverse. But also offers affordable study abroad, volunteer abroad and work abroad programs.
✈️ Find the Cheapest Flights
Kayak (web, iOS, Android): Compare hundreds of travel sites at once to find the best prices. Has the most comprehensive results. Can choose where to book (on or outside of Kayak).
Skyscanner (web, iOS, Android): Another travel search engine, but they do a great job at finding you the cheapest prices—especially if you’re flexible with your dates. Has a calendar feature where you can view prices throughout the month. Transfers you to the source website for booking.
Hopper (iOS, Android): Tells you when the best times to book flights are. Predicts when prices will be the cheapest even months in advance, and can notify you when price drops for your planned trip. Free.
🏨 Find the Cheapest Accommodations
Couchsurfing: Stay with hosts for free (not a typo). It’s all about making new friends and being part of a global, friendly community. Available worldwide.
Airbnb: The best alternative to hotels, motels and inns. You’ll find cheaper options here most of the time, by staying at people’s homes close to wherever you’re visiting. Also the best for unique travel experiences.
HostelBookers: Pick from many hostel options and book your stay. Usually the cheapest out of its competition.
Hostelz: Compares prices from all hostel booking websites at once.
💡 Other Useful Tools, Tips & Resources
Topdeck: Travel adventure deals for those ages 18–30
42 Best Travel Hacks for Saving Money (YTravel)
25 Ways To Save Money When You Travel (ULoop)
Top 10 Travel Discounts for College Students (College Magazine)
How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible to Anywhere (Thrifty Nomads)
🙇 Become Financially Literate
Finimize (email): Understand today’s financial news within 3 minutes, in language you can relate to. Subscribe to the fun, daily newsletters. Free.
Stackin’ (Facebook, SMS, Messenger): Learn about personal finance through fun, informative videos. You can also receive daily texts & interactive lessons through FB Messenger. Free.
💡 More Useful Tips & Resources
Personal Finance Subreddit (discussion with & tips from peers on Reddit)
Penny Hoarder (largest money-saving blog in the world)
Her Campus Money Section (#1 online magazine for college females)
100+ Student Discounts for 2018 (Offer.com)
40+ Money Tips for College Students (Wallet Hacks)
Should I Save for Retirement While In College? (The Balance)
5 Financial Mistakes College Students are Making (Blonde Lifestyle)
The Ultimate Guide on How to Manage Your Summer Earnings (Pluto)
Find this list useful? Share with your friends and classmates! 🙏