Finding Help on Campus: Student Enterprises
Bargain shop with friends
Elizabeth Jaquez never thought fellow students would be the ones to help her afford a college education. With three kids and a Marine husband who makes only $30,000 a year, paying tuition at San Diego State University seemed difficult at best. Add in the cost of child care, and it seemed impossible. But then Jaquez found out about the SDSU Children's Center, a student-run day-care program that provides subsidies for low-income students. With free child care, she could pursue a degree in Spanish linguistics. She graduated from SDSU in 2003 and is now going for a master's degree--"something I would not otherwise have been able to do," she says.
Across the country students are saving fellow students money by providing cut-rate, convenient products and services. At Cornell University, student-run Big Red Shipping and Storage offers classmates full-service storage that's easily half the rate of commercial companies. At Yale, students can buy textbooks at a discount from their colleagues at the used-textbook agency.
Many student businesses are organized as associated student agencies--university-sanctioned, independently run student corporations that allow students hands-on business experience. Associated Students of SDSU, for instance, is a $15.6 million annual operation that runs the campus's children's center, recreation facility, and student union and also sponsors concerts and fitness programs.
Even schools without official student agencies are rife with student-supplied bargains. With seed money from the University of Maryland-College Park's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Ori Zohar started a business buying caps and gowns from students immediately after graduation and reselling them at half the original price to the next class. At SUNY- Binghamton, senior Adam Gilbert created the "Ultimate Discount Card" by arranging for price cuts for students at 60 area stores and restaurants. "There was a tremendous opportunity to connect local merchants with the students at my school," he says.
This story appears in the April 18, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.