Skirting unnecessary costs

A guide to saving money on campus

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Being a student is really expensive. 

UB students might get a better deal than those who opted for private colleges, but in-state undergraduates still pay upwards of $7,000 per year on tuition alone. Out-of-state undergrads, graduate students and professional students pay significantly more. But tuition is only one aspect of the cost of student living. Housing, food and additional fees pile onto what is already a steep bill. 

So, if there are ways to make life at UB cheaper, students deserve to know. Lucky for you, we compiled a guide to help you avoid some costs of life at UB.

Avoid summer and winter courses

 Courses offered during the summer and winter terms are tempting options for students looking to alleviate some of the weight of their upcoming semester or serve as options for students who need to catch up on their credits in order to graduate on time. Although they seem convenient at first, students may need to consider the cost. 

 During the summer and winter terms, students are charged almost $300 per credit hour in addition to supplementary fees. An average 3-credit course can end up costing a student nearly $1,200 out of pocket. 

Think before you register. A lot of the time, students can benefit from saving the extra cash and instead, adding an extra course to their upcoming semester’s schedule.

Wait to buy the textbook

 Textbooks can come as a shocking additional cost. After paying the tuition and fees necessary to make your way into a course, nothing is worse than hearing a professor declare all students will also need a $300 textbook. 

Okay, one thing is worse: realizing that the book isn’t necessary once you’ve already bought it. 

 Hesitate before you listen to your professors on this one. Ask students who have taken the course to make sure you’ll actually need the book before you buy it. 

 Read through the syllabus carefully to see how often the professor assigns readings or work that can only be accessed via the textbook. If it isn’t that often, there may be alternatives to paying the full price. 

 Check online to see if the readings assigned in the textbook can be found on sites. UB Libraries is a great place to start the search for online and physical textbooks. 

 If the readings are unavailable online or in the libraries but sparse enough to make buying the whole book seem like a rip-off, ask a classmate if they would be interested in purchasing the book together and sharing it.

 Always check if the book is on sale for cheaper than at the bookstore. You can often rent used options online for a better deal.

 But if you know you’ll need the book to get a good grade, buy the book. It’s cheaper to pay for one textbook than to spend another semester paying tuition and fees at UB. 

Pick the meal plan that is right for you

Freshmen living on campus are limited in their meal-plan options. They can choose either the “Any 19 Plan” or the “Any 14 Plan.” The 19 plan provides students with 19 meals per week, plus 250 dining dollars and three guest meals to use throughout the semester. The 14 plan gives students 14 meals per week, 340 dining dollars and three guest meal passes to be used throughout the semester. 

It’s important to remember the value of a meal swipe depends on the time of day. 

Monday through Friday, 7-10:30 a.m., one “meal” is worth $5. Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch are each worth $9.80 until 8:30 p.m., then late night swipes are $5.85. These options come at a high price –– the “Any 19 Plan” costs $3,055 per semester and the “Any 14 Plan” costs $2,890 per semester –– and can leave students unsatisfied due to the time constraints limiting students’ ability to use their meals whenever. Students who prefer their more expensive meals in the morning need to supplement their meal swipe with another swipe or form of payment. For those who only want something small in the afternoon, they may have to use a meal swipe worth more than the food they’re buying. 

Students are also only allowed to use two meal swipes per time slot. This can leave students with extra meals at the end of the week that they lose once the new week begins. 

Students living on campus can explore other meal options after freshman year which may be more valuable. Students can also avoid meal plans altogether and fill up their accounts with Dining Dollars –– which are not taxed –– to save money and allow for more freedom. 

Julian Roberts-Grmela is an assistant features editor and can be reached at julian.grmela@ubspectrum.comand on Twitter at@GrmelaJulian.