College luxuries on a budget: the secret world of student discounts

More power to your wallet: student discounts can make all the difference.

More power to your wallet: student discounts can make all the difference.

Today’s college students are acutely aware of rising tuition prices, but many are caught off guard by how much extra luxuries add up once they are no longer dependent on their parents’ bank accounts.

It is often said that college is less about education and more about experiences, however most experiences come with a price tag. Although the simple solution for college students to save money is to not spend any, this does not reflect reality.

“Yeah I’m trying to save money,” said second year University of Denver student Maddie Taylor. “But I still like to eat out, go to the movies, see shows, buy new clothes. Just because I’m in college doesn’t mean that I have to stop doing the things I enjoy!”

Taylor adds that this doesn’t mean she doesn’t still manage her money, but she often finds herself wanting to buy things she simply doesn’t have the money for. “I try [to make a budget], but I’m not very good at it,” said Taylor.

Budgeting seminars: you can lead a horse to water…

Many colleges offer seminars and advising for students about setting budgets, something that the University of Denver lacks. Many University of Denver students agree, however, that even if this kind of help was offered, they would be weary of taking advantage of it. Allie Phocas, a second year University of Denver student, is one of these students.

“I honestly wouldn’t attend. Not because I don’t need the help, but because it’s not a particularly fun or attractive thing to do,” said Phocas. “I would rather do it on my own time, and online, but I reality I don’t do it and I end up spending way too much money.”

Hidden deals

There exists, however, a hidden world of student discounts that retailers don’t advertise and thus many students are unaware of. Second year University of Denver student Halle Farago was caught by surprise by learning that most movie theaters offer student discounts.

“Movie tickets are so expensive these days,” said Farago. “A 3D movie costs as much as a nice dinner!”

Phocus described student discounts like a secret menu item. “Only those in the know can take advantage of the deals,” said Phocus. “I could save so much money if only places were upfront about their student discounts!”

The following list is an attempt to increase awareness of the plethora of discounts available to university students.


  • Chipotle: Students receive a free soft drink with their meal with the presentation of their Student ID.
  • Subway: Student’s receive 10 percent off their meals with Student ID at participating locations.
  • Burger King: Showing your Student ID qualifies for 10 percent off entire meal.
  • Chick-fil-A: Students receive a free drink when they show their Student ID.
Gracie's Boutique frequently offers DU students discounts during select weekend events.

Gracie’s Boutique frequently offers DU students discounts during select weekend events.


  • Ann Taylor: 20 percent off with Student ID.
  • Urban Outfitters: Save 10 percent when you sing up for their student program.
  • J.Crew: Students save 15 percent when they show their Student ID.
  • Steve Madden: Students receive 10 percent off with Student ID.
  • Banana Republic: 15 percent off with Student ID.
  • TopShop: Students receive 10 percent off online purchases.
  • Gracie’s Boutique: Frequently offer University of Denver students 15 percent off items during special events.


Entertainment and Culture

  • AMC Theaters: Discounted tickets on Thursdays with presentation of Student ID.
  • Cinemark Theaters: Discounted tickets all nights with presentation of Student ID.
  • Denver Art Museum: $8 tickets for college students with Student IDs.
  • Denver Center for Performing Arts: $16 tickets for students with Student IDs.
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science: Students receive 10 percent off general admission adult tickets.


  • Spotify: Students get 50 percent off Spotify Premium when signing up with student email address.
  • Wall Street Journal: Students receive $1/week subscription.
  • The New York Times: 99¢ digital subscription for 4 weeks, then 50 percent off the regular rate after that.
  • Amazon: Students receive 50 percent off of Amazon Prime subscription ($49).


What’s missing?

While the list of student discounts is immense, Phocus noticed a common trend, especially among the restaurant deals.

Websites like STA Travel advertise discounted flights and tours for students.

Websites like STA Travel advertise discounted flights and tours for students.

“The places that offer student discounts are places that are already pretty cheap,” said Phocus. “I don’t break the bank going to Chipotle or Burger King. It’s when I want to treat myself and go out to a nice restaurant that my wallet takes a hit.”

Recent Albion College graduate Mia Morandi agreed with Phocus, saying that when her parents would visit they would take her out to restaurants she didn’t know existed.

“Where were these restaurants hiding?” said Morandi. “Oh right, outside of my budget.”

Travel is another common area students wish offered student discounts. “I would be so excited if airlines offered student discounts,” said Taylor. “I used to travel so much with my family, and now I have to debate whether to go home for the holidays or not because of plane ticket prices.”

Some websites such as STA Travel and Student Universe advertise exclusive student prices for travel on their websites, but search results still show very expensive options.

“I’m not asking for free flights,” said Taylor. “Just something reasonable that won’t break the bank.”

Never forget to ask.

While tuitions rates are an entirely different conversation about money, student savings is arguably just as important, especially if students will have student loans to pay off post-graduation. Saving 10 percent every time students go out to eat can add up over the course of their four years in school. These frequent savings however can be easy to miss.

And thus the best word of advice to students is to always remember to ask if a discount exists. “If it does, it does and you just saved any amount of change,” said Farago. “If not, no harm done.”




4 Responses to College luxuries on a budget: the secret world of student discounts

  • Lucy Constantino
    Lucy Constantino says:

    I can totally relate to your topic, Izzie. I work 2 part-time jobs on top of going to school full-time, so even though I have a meager income, I always look for a student discount whenever I have money to spend! I liked how you provided examples (and links!) of ways for students to save money (I had no idea about the subscriptions offered to students!) and getting some students’ perspectives who are in the same boat as me definitely caught my attention. Great job 🙂

  • Rebecca Gerber
    Rebecca Gerber says:

    Great job, Izzie! I found this article both interesting and informational. I am honestly kind of sad I didn’t read this two days earlier. I went shopping at J. Crew and Banana Republic for new work clothes and did not take advantage of the discounts. I really think they should have advertised these to me, but I guess it makes sense that they do not. Nonetheless, I think the discounts are a great and simple way to cut back on shopping, dining out, movies, subscriptions and banking. I definitely think I could be more money conscious and this article has inspired me to start!

  • Morgan Murphy
    Morgan Murphy says:

    This is an awesome article! I only knew about maybe two or three of these discounts. These should definitely be advertised in front windows or around college campuses so students can take advantage of these. The only criticism I can think of is to watch your format. One of your bullet points was not in line and off from the others. But thats it! great job!

  • Mackenzie Dykes
    Mackenzie Dykes says:

    This is an awesome article because of how informative it is! Listing all the deals that various restaurants and stores have around campus is very helpful in promoting the entire purpose of your article. That kind of information is available, but most students don’t know how to find it. Great job!

Leave a Reply