Money College: Stretching the student discount

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collegeBefore stepping into the ivory tower of academia, the time comes to take that student ID photo. No matter how disheveled you appear in your photo, treasure it: That little plastic card is your ticket to savings.

Businesses may keep these discounts hush hush, but if you are enrolled in school, take the opportunity to ask for the perks.

Regretless retail therapy
You can fill your closet, dorm, and refrigerator with deals from your student ID. Trendy Top Shop is a UK import with a new NYC location. It grants 10% off year-round with a student ID.

Craving cashmere? J.Crew is known for its selection of cashmere sweaters, but prices run upwards of $198 -- not exactly realistic on coffee shop paycheck. But the flash of a student ID at any J.Crew store earns you 15% off your entire purchase. High fashion doesn't end there -- Club Monaco offers 20% off with a student ID.

With a closet fill of khakis and cashmere, you can furnish the crib at Pier 1 with a 15% off discount. From martini glass sets to dining room tables, Pier 1 can class up that tired dorm room. When it comes time to entertain, head over to Sam's Club for a collegiate membership. Perks include a $15 gift card when you purchase the $40 membership and two membership cards to be shared among roommates or friends.

Some schools also have affiliations with companies such as Apple and T-Mobile that give their students a break on steep technology prices. Adobe offers student editions of both Adobe Creative Suite and Adobe Photoshop CS4 for up to 80% off the professional rate.

Easy on the wallet entertainment

Remember when going to the movies cost under $5? Now, five bucks barely buys you milk duds. Theaters are sympathetic to students and most offer some sort of student rate with aid. Participating locations of Regal Cinemas nationwide offer a student rate of 25% off. Cinemark Theaters cater to students as well -- just ask Texas A&M students, whose College Station Theater boasts $4 tickets.

If live entertainment is more your style, check to see if your local stage has a rate to befitting of your student budget. Lincoln Center in New York has $7 tickets to the Film Society, $12 to the New York Philharmonic and to the New York City Opera. Broadway followed suit with student rush tickets available to shows like Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia! and South Pacific. NYC is not the only one catering to student, Houston area students receive $10 student rush tickets to the Houston Ballet.

Take in a night of sports by taking advantage of promotional student id nights. If you check the promotional schedule of major sporting league teams and their affiliates, some designate days for student id discounted tickets. Every Wednesday in Minneapolis is not just Hormel Dollar-A-Dog night at the Twins game, but students can get $4 tickets. The Washington Wizards offer a study break with $10 student tickets.

Unless you are under 12, museum tickets can cost a pretty penny. A student id may be just the ticket to make that museum entrance fee doable. Although not listed on their ticketing pricing, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offers $5 off the $22 admission price with a college id. The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco has a $4 ticket price for students. If viewing art is something you must do more than once a year, try a student membership for $35 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

Furthering the discount
Local restaurants and businesses around a college campus are going to tend to cater to the students in the area. If you are too timid to ask everywhere you go, try visiting studentsavingsclub.com to find discount listing for schools in 20 states. Simply find your school and explore the savings in categories like automotive, restaurants, and shopping. Student Buying Guide is a blog dedicated to educating students ongoing deals and coupon codes.

While a mere student id can be a gateway to savings, purchasing a Student Advantage Discount Card for $20 a year gives students exclusive access to retailers such as urbanoutfitters.com and target.com. The free Student Discount Card is available for Southern California schools such as San Diego State University and UC Santa Barbara for local restaurants and retails deals.

National deals may be harder to come by, but living on or near a college campus means access to local businesses that tend to support students. So before you swipe that debit card, try see if flashing that student ID lowers your bill.

And regardless of how you looked the day you took that photo, smile -- especially if you just saved big bucks.
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