Less Purchase Necessary: College Students Save Money With Student Discounts

With the average cost of receiving a college education rising annually, students are looking to save any dollar they can, and retailers have chosen to empathize with students and offer discounts for their products or services. It’s as easy as flashing your student ID.

“We already pay a lot to go to school and be students, so it is kind of nice that we can save some money on things that aren’t school related,” said Dani Thomas, a junior integrated marketing communications major.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, for the 2014–2015 academic year, the average annual price for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board was estimated to be $16,188 at a public university, $41,970 at a private nonprofit institution and $23,372 at a private for-profit institution. That is a 33 percent rise from the 2004–2005 academic year.

This graph shows the increase of college tuition at public and private institutions from 2004–2014. The data was gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics.

“I feel like a lot of places in Oxford are way out of the normal student’s price range and having different student discounts helps to alleviate that,” said Molly Berra, a senior dietetics and nutrition major.

Students can receive discounts by downloading an app, creating an account on a student discount website or asking the cashier if a store offers a discount.

A popular way students at Ole Miss receive student discounts is through a free app, Pocket Points. Not only does Pocket Points provide students with discounts at their favorite restaurants and stores, the app also rewards students for staying off their phones in class.

“I need to spare all of the money I can,” said Spencer Ball, a sophomore exercise science major. “It’s a good incentive and an easy way to stay off my phone during class — except in chemistry — there’s no stopping that.”

Pocket Points uses geofencing technology to determine when a student is inside a classroom in an academic building on campus. Students lock their phone while they are in class and for every minute the phone remains locked, points are gained. The points can then be redeemed for discounts at participating local stores and restaurants and other online retailers.

“I’ve noticed that when I have Pocket Points turned on I’m a lot less tempted to check my phone in class, especially since I know I’m getting rewards for the longer I stay off it,” said Berra.

Pocket Points benefits students by supplying them with coupons to their favorite stores and it benefits businesses by giving them name recognition.

“People definitely come and shop here because of the deals,” said Brittany Ladner, a sales associate at Material Girls. “Pocket Points also helps to get our name out there.”

Material Girls and Frock Fashions are two of the many businesses in Oxford that use the Pocket Points app.

“Girls come in and ask about our Pocket Points and I’ll tell them the deals we have going on,” said Erin Tackitt, a sales associate at Frock Fashions. “We have a buy one, get one 25 percent off deal that is really popular, and customers will spend more money knowing that there is a discount.”

Over 20 local businesses use Pocket Points, not including the online businesses that also participate in its discounts. Popular places to redeem Pocket Points include South Depot, Sonic, Insomnia Cookies, Material Girl, and YaYa’s Frozen Yogurt.

“I like to use Pocket Points in town at Sunsations and online at Lulu’s,” said Chandler Carpenter, a junior marketing and corporate relations major. “I can get a spray tan for 10 or 15 bucks off which is a substantial amount, especially since I get spray tans a lot.”

Students are eager to get the word out about Pocket Points because the more students that use the app, the more and faster students all across campus gain points. Students often hear about the app from another friend or even a Facebook page.

“I know that the more people that sign on, the more points you get faster,” said Thomas. “I like that aspect because I know that I can get more points because of other people.”

When asked if the app brings more customers to the business, Chance Davis, a sales associate at GNC said, “Nobody can beat our prices, especially with the Pocket Points discounts.”

Pocket Points was created by Mitch Gardner and Rob Richardson in 2014 while they were students at California State University, Chico.

They told Business Insider that while they sat in their classes they noticed a problem students had. That problem was phone addiction. They thought if technology could cause that kind of problem, then it could also be used to solve it.

They launched the app at their California campus in the fall of 2014, and in the spring of 2015 expanded it to more campuses throughout the nation.

Pocket Points is now available at over 120 collegiate campuses and reaches thousands of students nationwide.

Another resource students can use to save their money is UNiDAYS. UNiDAYS is a UK-based, online website that provides students with exclusive discounts to hundreds of in-store and online retailers. UNiDAYS partners with over 600 brands across the world including ASOS, Apple, Urban Outfitters and Spotify. Users create a free account with any valid university email address and unlock unique discounts only available to UNiDAYS account holders.

Tori Mulvey, a junior psychology major, likes using student discounts because she can buy the things that she wants but still have money left to go out with her friends.

“I like to shop online,” Mulvey said. “I was on the ASOS website and an ad for a 10 percent student discount popped up, so I clicked on it and it led me to UNiDAYS.”

UNiDAYS never lets its users miss a deal. According to Mulvey, they often send out emails with all of their new, current and limited-time-offer deals.

UNiDAYS was ranked the ninth fastest growing tech company in the UK by Tech Track 100 in 2016, and in 2015, it was named The Lloyds Bank Digital Business of the Year. UNiDAYS connects 142 million students across 32 countries with their brand affiliates and has 8.3 million regular users worldwide.

Other local businesses offer discounts to students, as well. Subway, Waffle House and Burger King will offer a 10 percent off discount for students when they show a valid student ID, and Chick-fil-A and Chipotle will offer a free drink with the purchase of a meal.

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