Top Educational Apps for College Students

Cell phone apps have come a long way in the past few years. There are so many free and educational apps on the market now that it can be hard to determine which ones are worth a download (and your ever-decreasing storage space). This list of educational apps includes some that your professors might also be using, like iTunes U. What would you add to this list?


Though it’s only for Android, SpeechNotes is an elevated speech-to-text app that makes taking notes in class way easier. Now that Dragon Naturally Speaking is no longer free, SpeechNotes is a great alternative for those of us who like to dictate our homework while we do more interesting things, like cooking… Or puzzles.


Much of college is dedicated to working on larger projects, and often that means teaming up with other people. Dropbox makes group work a breeze by allowing you to share documents on the cloud and choose who gets access to what. It’s also nice for when you somehow forgot to turn in that paper and can show your professor that you really are sending it while you’re standing in front of them instead of cheating and adding a few final touches.


For college students who do like to take notes or documenting things, Evernote is essential. It lets you record lectures, jot down information, take photos, store documents, and even clip websites for research purposes. But the best part is that you can keep all of this information in a single, easy to find location so that when you’re studying for your essay on Chaucer or your Bio midterm, you can just access that folder and everything will be there waiting for you.


Yet another app by the awesome team over Chegg, EasyBib is an app that helps you generate super bibliographies super quickly. Their website is easy to use, and the app is available for Android and iOS. The best feature is that you are able to choose from MLA8, MLA7, APA, or Chicago formats.

iTunes U

iTunes U serves a dual purpose. It allows users to access tons of free education content, and you and your professors can use it to view and submit assignments, join group discussions, and view grades.

The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling College Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the most expensive costs for a college student, especially if you’re going into a major that is heavy on reading. If you’re a broke college student, finding cheap textbooks is a priority. It’s also not hard to do.

Before You Buy Your Textbooks

There are a few questions to ask yourself before you buy all the books on your syllabus.

Do I need this book?

The first step is to figure out whether you’ll use the books on your syllabus. Most professors will be honest and tell you how much you need the book. If you’ll only use the book a few times, see if you can borrow it from a classmate.

Which edition?

First step is to ask your professor, when they’re going over the syllabus is the best time, if the newest edition is necessary. Most professors, my mom included, don’t necessarily need or want you to have the newest, most expensive edition unless whatever changed is exactly what is needed for the class. Usually the new edition has a few grammatical fixes and a fancy new cover and that’s all.

eBook or real book?

Once you know you need a book, decide whether you want to buy a real book or an eBook. eBooks are more affordable and portable, but they are more difficult to highlight or otherwise annotate. Real books are more expensive, but many people find that they retain the information better when reading it from paper rather than a screen.

Renting or owning?

If you’ve settled on a real book, the next step is to decide if you want to rent or own the book. The upside to renting is it’s cheaper, but the downside is you can’t sell it at the end of the semester. If the book is going to be worthless at the end of the semester and you know this, go with renting. If you can sell it back to Amazon or another online marketplace with a textbook buy-back program, own it.

Finding the Best Prices for College Textbooks

Before your make a purchase, do some price comparisons. Many online retailers do that for you, but it’s in your best interest to visit some brick and mortar locations as well.

Bookstore prices

Go to the official campus bookstore and go to the unofficial bookstore. Check the prices on the books you need, make a nice comparison chart that will save your life.

Many college bookstores also have a book buyback program, where you can sell them your old textbooks for store credit on future textbooks or supplies.

There might also be a book swap or sell group on campus. Usually you can find signs posted, or it might be a Facebook group. This is another IRL way to get cheap books. Used books are great because important passages are typically already highlighted for you!

Online prices

Now, go home and check Craigslist, Ebay, and Add these prices to your chart. Search using the books ISBN number to get the correct edition.

Craigslist is a potential option for anyone living in a college town. Many students sell their used textbooks to other students through Facebook or Craigslist at a discounted rate.

The Amazon we know today sells practically everything, but it was originally a bookstore. You can still find great deals on textbooks, particularly eBook versions.

Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble has many textbooks, most of which you can sell back to them when you are done.

You can buy or rent books from Chegg for a very low price. They have a good selection of books to choose from, and if you can decide to keep a book you are renting, for a fee.

Valore Books
Valore makes it easy to find books with their ISBN search tool.

Campus Books
The best part about Campus Books is that you can use their search function to scour multiple sites for the same book. This way, you’ll always get the best price.


Now that you have your nice chart comparing prices/shipping charges, do a little math see which deal is best. If you have a school email address, you can often get Amazon Prime free for 6 months, and then at a reduced rate thereafter. This might help offset potential shipping costs, and make Amazon the best option.

Finding the best price

Throughout your search for a book, you will need to compare textbooks and find the best price. The easiest way to find cheap college books is to search websites for the ISBN and compare prices. There are tons of websites out there for you to compare prices easily and having the ISBN is the best way to do it.

Where to Sell Your College Textbooks

Most websites that sell textbooks will also buy them back, including Amazon and Valore Books. Here are a few more websites that will buy your books for real cash.

What are your tricks for finding the best deals on college textbooks?

How to Save Money in College

College can be very financially stressful, but you don’t have to acquire major debt. There are a number of ways to save money in college. The two most important are putting money into savings accounts, and not racking up major credit card debt.

Check our our tips for how to start saving money.

Finding the Best Savings Account for You

Many college students struggle with personal finance and have a hard time saving money. On top of that, many banks don’t offer a savings account that is conducive to a college student’s savings plan and budget. To get a decent interest rate, most banks require a large balance in the tens of thousands, which isn’t an easy feat for most students.

Decide on a Savings Plan

Most college students don’t think saving money is important. While it’s true you don’t necessarily have to start saving for retirement while in college, you do need a savings account. You need to plan for unexpected events and emergencies. It also helps to save money if a great opportunity, like a trip to Europe, comes up. Having the financial freedom to join your friends on a vacation is a much better choice than having to beg your parents for the funds.

If you’re saving up for something specific, like a $10,000 car, figure out how much you need to put away per month. If you’re just saving money, put away as much as you can per month. Even small savings can add up over time to large amounts of money. An extra $5 per month over a few years makes a huge difference, especially if you get a good interest rate.

Finding a Bank

The first step is finding a bank that offers what you need. You can start locally by visiting banks and credit unions in your area or you can start online by searching. Credit unions will be friendlier to smaller accounts, but you will be limited by their smaller network. While a large network is more important for checking accounts than savings accounts, this may still matter to you if you live far from home or plan on moving soon.

Choosing the Best Account

Once you find a bank that you think will work best for you, look carefully at their types of savings accounts. You want to find the best savings account for you. Look at minimum deposit amounts, monthly balances and any fees associated with the accounts. U.S. federal law only allows you to withdraw money a maximum of six times per month for an account to be considered a savings account. Most banks will turn your account into a checking account if you go over the withdraw limit, and sometimes they will charge you a fee.

Educate yourself on credit

Credit is essential. Most people can’t buy a television without it, let alone a car or a house. Credit scores are even looked at during the employment process. No credit is worse than bad credit, but you can avoid both by applying for small credit cards and using them wisely.

Tips to build your credit without hurting it first

  • Don’t apply for too much credit at once – this will hurt your score
  • If you take advantage of 0% APR grace periods, which is okay to do, be careful of the fees you’ll incur afterward. Sometimes they’re awful.
  • Don’t take out cash advances. If you really need cash for something, use the money you’d otherwise spend on food, CDs, etc. that’s in your bank account and put those purchases on your card. Regular interest is better than cash advance interest no matter how you look at it.
  • Don’t simply apply for a card just because they’re giving away free t-shirts. You might miss a $50 yearly fee because you’re distracted with presents.
  • If you can’t get credit anywhere else, try a in-store credit card at a store you frequent, but only after carefully looking over the terms. Put a small amount on the card, pay it off at the end of the month to avoid interest. Do it again each month for the next six months and apply for a better card somewhere else.
  • Remember, that if your score is low, there’s nowhere else to go but up. If you play the game right, you can have great credit without paying too much to the companies.

5 Ways for College Students to Make Quick Money

Let’s face it: every college student could use more money. But there are only so many hours in the day after classes, work, and extracurricular activities. Check out these 5 ways to make some seriously quick money.

  1. Sell on ebay. This requires some research, but what I do is scour Best Buy and Circuit City (and other such electronics retailers) for great sales, then buy the product and put it on ebay. Best Buy has some great sales where you can get $100 off retail value, sell it on ebay and get a $50-75 profit easily. You can also sell thrifted clothing, accessories, and memorabilia.
  2. Join websites that pay you to fill out surveys and do free trials. The ones with high payout are usually trial offers that require a credit card to join, and if you cancel within the trial, you won’t be billed. I’ve made $80 in two months with Cash Crate. You’ll also need an extra email address for all the spam you will get from the surveys.
  3. Offer your cleaning and laundry services to friends.
  4. Start a side hustle. There are a couple ways to do this; you can join websites like Fiverr or Upwork; or you can advertise your services on campus. Skills like web design, social media management, and even brand ambassadors are in big demand on Fiverr. On campus, you’ll have more success with tutoring and proofreading.
  5. Work from home doing transcription work. If you can spell accurately and type quickly then you are a perfect fit. You can apply at websites like Rev and TranscribeMe.


Tax Tips for College Students

It’s time to get ready for tax season! The first step you can take is to visit the IRS site to find out whether you need to file. Tax season brings unhappy thoughts into most minds, but when you’re a student, it can be a good thing. Most students aren’t required to pay taxes, so anything that was withheld will be refunded to you. Unless you claim exempt on your W2 form at work, taxes are withheld from your paycheck. Some people even fill it out so the IRS takes out more than they should so they can get a bigger refund.

Filing isn’t tricky either. Services like TurboTax make things so much easier. If you’ve paid interest on any student loans, you can claim some of them as a deduction. While this doesn’t help students who don’t have to pay taxes, it is helpful for those who do and for those who are out of college.

Tax Tips for College Students

Preparing your return

  • TurboTax, which is made by powerful software company, Intuit, is the leading tax preparation software. The basic edition is $20, but there’s also a free online edition for 1040EZ filers (most common, unless you’re utilizing deductions, you’ll most likely fall under this category).
  • IRS eFile – The IRS allows you to prepare and file your tax return electronically.
  • Major Tax Preparers: H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, etc. – These tax preparation companies are another alternative to filing for yourself, but if you’re a student, your return isn’t going to be complicated and these places aren’t cheap. Not a good idea for most people.


  • Mail – you mail it off, it’s free, but it can take up to six weeks for your refund
  • TurboTax e-file with direct deposit – $14.95, can get your refund in 9 days
  • IRS FreeFile – if you qualify for FreeFile (made $66,000 or less), you can file your return electronically with the IRS for free. You can set up direct deposit and get your return in 10 days.

Websites to help you out

10 Money Saving Tips for College Students

College is expensive! Sometimes you have to hustle to make ends meet. These 10 tips will help you stay afloat until payday.

  1. Save up before you spend your money on new stuff. Avoid using credit cards.
  2. Join a credit union or find a bank that offers free student checking accounts.
  3. Prepare your FAFSA and apply for financial aid with your school
  4. Apply for scholarships.
  5. Don’t buy textbooks unless absolutely necessary, and if you do, be smart about it.
  6. Learn how to eat on a college student’s budget.
  7. Make a budget and track your spending with a service like Mint.
  8. Don’t get a credit card unless you can use it responsibly.
  9. Cut the cable cord and sign up for Netflix, or Hulu. If you already take advantage of Amazon Prime’s student discount, you may be able to access their library of free TV and movies. If you’re really on a budget, you can use sites like Popcorn Flix, Crackle, Tubi TV, and Snag Films.
  10. Use your school’s gym, computer lab, health clinic and other resources that your tuition pays for.

Student Loans 101

Filling out the FAFSA

Have you filed your FAFSA yet? If not, here are some helpful tips to get you started.


Myth: If my parents make too much money, I can’t get any financial aid

Fact: You won’t qualify for nice things like Pell grants, but you can still qualify for federal loans. Depending on which year you’re in, you can get a nice chunk of tuition covered with a Stafford loan. I was able to get a subsidized loan, meaning the government pays the interest while in school. Unsubsidized you must pay, but the interest rate is incredibly low.

Myth: I only need to fill out the FAFSA once.

Fact: You need to submit the FAFSA every year that you need financial aid. Once you’ve filled it out the first time, though, you only have to submit a renewal each year.

Myth: I don’t have to worry about paying loan interest while in school.

Fact: Depends on your loan. If you get a loan with no accruing interest until after you graduate, then you don’t have to. But most loans do accrue interest. If you have a Parent PLUS loan, pay that interest right away. Better yet, don’t get another one of these loans unless you really, really must. The interest rate is incredibly high and if you let it build up while you’re in school, you’ll be amazed at the amount owed by graduation.

Myth: I don’t have to file scholarships and grants on my taxes.

Fact: Sometimes you do. It depends on what kind of scholarship. Always ask your financial aid office.

What are Student Loans

Student loans are loans from private lenders or the government that you can use for college. They are different from other loans, especially because you can defer payments until after graduation. If you aren’t careful, you can end up owing a lot more than you borrowed.

I was able to get a subsidized Stafford loan through Wells Fargo (the government pays the interest while I’m in school) for $3500, but all the rest is in a Parent PLUS loan, which has a high interest rate and although payments are differed, it accrues interest now. If you can get Stafford loans, even if it’s unsubsidized, I’d take advantage, even if you need another loan as well.

Private Student Loans vs. Financial Aid

The first place to learn about private student loans versus federal student loans is the Federal Student Aid website.

The biggest reason people choose private loans is because the amount you can borrow is up to $40,000 for one year, which is a lot more than financial aid offices award students. There are other loan companies, such as Sallie Mae, Think Financial, or Chase.

If you’re going to go this route, I suggest thoroughly researching the company and the rates. Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you’re getting a fixed rate. Some companies, such as Sallie Mae, have allegations against them. Also, private loans usually require good credit to be approved so it helps to have a parent or older family member that’s willing to help. But if they’re going to put their name on it, sometimes it’s better to take out a second mortgage or do a home equity loan with a better rate.

Once you get your student loan reimbursement, you can decide what to do with it. The Federal Student Aid website has a good guide for what to do once you receive financial aid.

Repaying student loans

If you have federal loans, your options are simple. The interest rate is lower, so it’s usually best to just pay them as scheduled. Private loan terms usually vary from provider to provider, while government-backed loans are stuck with the federal terms given, no matter who your lender is.

One option is consolidation, which is not the best option unless you seriously can’t afford the monthly payments. Consolidation leads to a higher interest rate because you’re extending the life of the loan and there are more complications with private loans. Depending on your financial plan, consolidation can be a good or a bad option.

There are also options for loan forgiveness if you are going to be joining the Peace Corps, the military, or teaching certain subjects.

Also, you can’t simply just declare bankruptcy anymore and be done with your loans. Certain federal loans will go away, but not private loans. The government decided on this a few years ago because too many students were coming out of college and declaring bankruptcy right off the bat. There are certain circumstances surrounding the issue, which are covered in more detail here.

The FinAid website also has a useful Loan Calculator.

Eating on a College Student’s Budget

Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things. One of the first things to go for college students is food, because it can be so expensive. I know how hard it is to be creative when trying to eat for only a few dollars per meal. Fortunately for you, I made a list of budget meals for college students. While they’re not all healthy, you’ll be fed with money in the bank.

Most college students can budget about $5 to $10 a day for meals each month, and Ramen noodles get old quick. I have a few tips that can help you make the most of your grocery budget without breaking the bank.

Tips for Meal Planning


Coupons make a huge difference. You can score major discounts when you combine manufacturer coupons with your local grocery store’s coupons.

Shop Store Brand

Let’s keep it real: the only good mac and cheese is Kraft. But for most everything else, the store brand is just as delicious as name brands. In some cases, like the Costco brand Kirkland Signature, the store brand is often better!

Meal Planning

Never shop hungry and always shop with a list. Plan your meals for the week, utilizing leftovers as often as possible. You can make a crock pot full of shredded chicken on Sunday, and use it throughout the week for nachos, quesadillas, soups, burritos, chicken salad, and so on. Plan ahead so you know exactly what, and how much, you need.

Go Meatless

Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. Try out “Meatless Mondays” for an easy way to cut a few dollars from your budget. Replace meat with black beans, tofu,

Budget Upgrades

If you’re budget is tight at the end of the month, you might still get stuck with Ramen noodles. Keep your kitchen stocked with affordable items Sriracha, green onions, dried seaweed, veggies, and soft-boiled eggs for an instant upgrade.

Buy In Bulk

If you’re lucky enough to have access to bulk stores like Costco or Winco, these are most often your most budget-friendly bets.

Budget Meal Ideas

Here is a list of cheap, but filling, meals that I eat regularly.


  • Eggs. Scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, baked, in a frittata, as a quiche – eggs are a great source of protein.
  • Grilled cheese & tomato soup
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Upgraded ramen
  • Protein pancakes
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt


  • hot dogs/chili dogs
  • spaghetti
  • baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
  • stir-fry
  • nachos
  • hamburgers
  • jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
  • tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
  • chicken quesadillas
  • if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
  • macaroni and hot dogs
  • Frito pie
  • Homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)


  • frozen pizza
  • store brand TV dinners
  • Spaghetti-O’s (or your favorite canned meals from childhood)