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Finances & Money Frugality

7 Ways to Save Money on College Transportation

by Nate

This is a guest post by Nate Desmond from Debt-free Scholar (RSS). He writes about college finances on his blog.

Travel is a large part of a college student’s life. Everyday, college students have to travel to and from campus. At least once a week, they travel to the grocery store. In addition, they travel home at least once a year. With so much travel, the cost of transportation clearly has a large impact on their budget. Using the seven methods below, college students should be able to decrease, or even eliminate, these travel expenses.

  1. Walk – If a destination is close by, walk to it. This will save you money on gas; plus you will get more exercise. However, walking does take more time than any other transportation method. To make good use of this extra time, make sure to bring along study notes to review. When calculating the time needed to walk somewhere, keep in mind that the average person’s walking speed is between three to four miles per hour.
  2. Ride a bicycle – This is my favorite method. Compared to walking, bicycling is more expensive because you have to buy a bike, a helmet, and a good lock, but, after the initial investment, bicycle maintenance costs are quite low. Compared to a car, the bicycle is much less expensive – no insurance, no gas, no high-priced repairs. In addition, a bicycle is much faster than walking. Most “regular” bicyclists can average 10 to 20 miles per hour. Your speed really depends on you; the more you bike the faster you will get.
  3. Use public transportation – Although generally more expensive over time than bicycling, public transportation can be less expensive up front than biking. In addition, public transportation is faster than bicycling if you are going long distances (Or you can move closer to campus, more on this later). If you rarely need to travel long distances, you can easily combine public transportation and bicycling on the longer trips. Overall, I vastly prefer bicycling, but that is just my personal preference.
  4. Carpool – If you can find other college students who live near you, you might be able to start a carpool. Everyday, you will meet at an agreed upon spot and drive together to campus. After school, you will return together. Although individual carpool agreements vary, normally each rider will pay a certain percentage of the driving costs, and each person will rotate as the driver. For more information on how to carpool, read this WikiHow article.
  5. Find a one-stop shop – Instead of getting your week’s groceries at five different shopping centers, try to condense your shopping to a single shopping center or even to one store. Keep in mind, however, that some “one-stop shops” are more expensive than their smaller counterparts. You will need to compare the extra transportation costs with the “convenience” cost of the one-stop shop. In addition, even if you do not find one single store that fills all your needs, you can at least restrict your shopping to a small area. For example, do not buy your groceries on one side of town only to travel to the other side of town to get a haircut.
  6. Move closer to campus – Living on-campus is very expensive and is, therefore, probably a bad idea. However, living close to campus can be an excellent idea. People living two to four blocks away from college will be conveniently close, but for a much lower price than living in the dorms. Living close to campus gives you the option of walking or bicycling to campus. In addition, you will save travel time no matter what transportation method you use.
  7. Look for student travel discounts – When you travel home, watch for student discounts. Whether you are traveling by train, bus, or plane, student discounts will decrease your costs. Most students will want to travel many times a year – Christmas, spring break, etc. However, the high costs often ruin their travel plans. The solution is student discounts. If you mention that you are a student, many travel companies will give you large discounts.

Obviously, this article only lists some of the many ways to save on college transportation. What methods do you recommend for cutting travel costs?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • When i was in college I always had to walk everywhere, which I didn’t mind. At Penn St. that could mean a half hour walk to class, sometimes in a snow storm. Good thing I always had my ipod on me. Not sure what I would have done if I had to do all those walks without it, ha.

  • @Craig, I went to PSU before iPods, so we had walkmans 🙂

    I always lived off-campus, usually at least a 10 minute walk to class, but usually more like 20-30. I miss those college days where I walked everywhere. To school, to work, to the bars. And yes, I did have a bike that I used when it was dry out. No point in getting a wet skidmark up your back, even when you have a splash guard!

  • @Clever Dude I used to love the walkman and discman, but would have ran out of songs way too early, ha. Looking back at all the technology I had in my room during college, it’s hard to imagine college life without it all.

    I do miss being able to walk everywhere, especially the bars. Don’t quite have that luxury now, and taxis are expensive.

  • When I was in college, I did 2 years on campus and two years off. I saved a ton of money living off campus, and my commute was shorter than the dorms. I lived across the street, the dorms were half a block down!

    I also walked everywhere. I definitely remember making a lot of cheaper verus farther shopping trips, as I did not like carrying it all for a 30 minute walk home.

  • Nearly all colleges and universities also have free or cheap shuttles. In general, this seems like a list good for all walks of life–not just students!

  • Thanks for writing a thorough article about personal finance management. I learnt something new and hope to test drive your ideas soon. Awesome article!!

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