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Tips for Living on a College Student Budget

One of my earliest memories of America is my first trip to a Walmart. Not just any Walmart, but a suburban behemoth that seemed to go on endlessly. The varieties of candy inside seemed even more infinite; stacks upon stacks of giddily colored boxes describing the sugary goodness they held. But - and here's the point of this story - I could only ever pick one.


During my years at N.Y.U., I've realized that in a city like New York, there is never an excuse to be bored. From the traditional (restaurants and movies), to the moderately new (Shakespeare in the Park and outdoor performances), to the really wild (mixology and trapeze classes), there is no limit to the options available.


There is, however, a limit to your budget. Especially as a student, especially recently.


With heady independence comes the need to manage money responsibly. Americans like to live large (ask for a "small" Coke at a movie theater, and you'll see what I mean), and money will slip through your hands with the greatest of ease. Here are a few ways to ensure that that doesn't happen.




Most students, like me, usually have only a very general sense of how they spend their money. It's easy to remember that one big expense, but students sometimes don't realize that the smaller daily expenditures can really add up. Recording your major daily expenses (food, travel, entertainment, etc.) takes only a few minutes and will help you keep track of your money.


EducationUSA runs a series of webinars that cover the Five Steps to U.S. Study, one of which specifically discusses the planning of a student budget.

“留学美国”(EducationUSA)组织了一系列网络研讨会,讨论了“留学美国的五个步骤”(Five Steps to U.S. Study),其中一项特别讨论了学生的预算规划。



As mentioned above, America can be filled with things that tempt you to part with your money. Make a list (mental or otherwise) of the things you really want to do and say no to the rest. Your college experience will be no less fulfilling if you don't go to all 10 shows or try every restaurant in town.


Take advantage of discounts and freebies


As a student, you will have access to dozens of free (or heavily discounted) shows, dining options and other entertainment. If you really wanted to, you could try to go weeks without paying for food in college. All you would have to do is scour your school's events calendar and attend the open meetings. Bonus: You might find a club or organization you really like, in which case, you might be eating free pizza all the time.


Consider getting a part-time job


This is a tough one and might not be possible for many international students. Paid jobs seem ridiculously competitive and difficult to get.


However, if you are one of the lucky ones, it is important to have realistic expectations about your part-time income, said Martin Bennett, the EducationUSA outreach coordinator at the Institute of International Education.

不过,“留学美国”在国际教育协会(Institute of International Education)的外展协调员马丁· 本内特(Martin Bennett)说,如果你是幸运儿之一,对兼职收入有个现实的期待值也很重要。

"The general consensus is that having a part-time job on campus can help pay for some personal expenses," Mr. Bennett wrote in an e-mail. "That being said, the expectation should not be that a part-time job will cover much more than $2,000 to $3,000/academic year if a student were to work 16 to 20 hours per week." He added, "20 hours per week on campus while school is in session is the maximum allowed under U.S. immigration regulations."

“大家一致认为,在大学里拥有一份兼职,能帮学生们支付一些个人花销,”本内特在一封电子邮件里面写道。“话虽这么说,学生也不应当期望,假如自己每周工作16到20个小时,这份兼职工作就能每学年提供远超2000美元到3000美元的收入 。”他补充说,“而且根据美国移民法,在学期过程中,每周兼职20小时已经是政府允许的最大限度。”

"I advise," he continued, "that unless absolutely necessary, a student take the first semester on campus to get used to the way of life and of the classroom culture and faculty expectations before plunging into a job on-campus."

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