Tips for Grads: Student discounts that pay

By Olivia Gacka, PhD Student

We all know that being a student can be challenging. The hours, the studying, the work, it’s no small feat. So, we should take the breaks where we can get them. If you’re like me and took some time between educational programs (whether that’s between your undergraduate degree and graduate degree, or between graduate degrees!) you might have forgotten that one of the sweetest benefits of being a student are the discounts you can get.

Some of them are obvious, like the discounts you can access using your Wiscard on campus. But some student discounts are hidden in plain sight. This column isn’t going to give you an exhaustive list (a Google search or a scan through websites like SheerID or Student Beans will give you more ideas than you could ask for!), but it will remind you of some places to look for discounted goods and services. It’s worth taking some time to retrain your brain in this way, because one 10% discount might not feel like a lot, but when you add them all together and make discount-searching an active part of your life as a student, your wallet will thank you.

Some places and categories to look for student discounts:

  • Goods: Check your options before you buy things like office supplies, technology, clothes, mattresses, newspaper subscriptions, cosmetic items, and food (grocery or at restaurants and chain locations). You’ll be surprised where the discounts are available but not advertised.
  • Services: Some examples of services that may offer student discounts are cell phone plans, banking institutions, internet providers, streaming services (TV/film and music), car rental companies (including Zipcar), movie theatres, and much more!

On campus:

  • Wiscard: When you’re on campus, use your Wiscard! Take some time to pre-load some money onto your card, and you’ll get 5% when you use it at Babcock Hall Dairy Store, University Housing, and Wisconsin Union dining locations, and for most purchases at the Bookstore (not to mention vending machines on campus that have a Wiscard sticker!) For the amount of coffee I get at Peets, I know this is a discount that adds up for me!
  • Recreation & Wellbeing: Whether you know it or not, as a UW student you are already a member of RecWell, which gives you free access to a variety of campus recreation and sports or fitness facilities. Your automatic membership also gives you discounts on a variety of things like yoga classes, ice skating lessons, personal training, and massage therapy.
  • The Keep: The Keep is a food pantry for which all UW–Madison students are eligible (with student ID) once a week on Thursdays, operated out of Luther Memorial Church. Check out their webpage for a brief informational video as well as hours and more details.

Do you have a favorite student discount you wish you had known about sooner, or wish more people knew they had at their fingertips? Tell your friends! Spread the wealth and let a fellow graduate student know. The real moral of this story is to always have your student ID on you, even off campus, because you never know what it’ll get you!

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.