College Connect Spring 2019: How to Afford a Trip to the Movies

By Abby Monteil

College is often characterized as a place to gain exposure to new experiences and culture, as well as to meet new people. One reputable way to do this is to catch a new movie with friends. However, a trip to the theater is getting increasingly difficult to afford for college students who are dealing with the costs of attending school.

According to Statista, the average American movie theater ticket cost $9.11 Among the class of 2018, 69% of U.S. college students took out loans, and graduated with an average of $29,800 in student debt. With those financial concerns in mind, finding funding to enjoy films can seem daunting. But, there are still a number of ways to access a wide range of films without sacrificing your college savings.

Luckily, a number of popular movie theater chains have special offers for college students looking to enjoy new releases. Participating AMC Theaters locations offer student discounts on general tickets, as well as on AMC Stubs (their version of a movie pass, which gives members 3 free movies per week). Regal Theaters and Cinemark also offer reduced movie tickets for college students — bring your school ID and check with your local theater to find out the conditions of these discounts.

If you don’t want to venture far from your college campus to catch a movie, you’re most likely in luck. Student programming organizations at many American universities offer free or heavily discounted film screenings on-campus. Nearly all of these films tend to have come out within the past six months or past year. For instance, my school — the University of Missouri — puts on free film screenings on Wednesdays, and $1 film screenings on Friday and Saturday evenings. Many residence hall stores and student unions also offer DVDs to rent at a low price.

When it comes to online viewing platforms, Netflix — a titan of this developing market — unfortunately does not offer any special deals to college students. However, there are a number of other streaming offers available. If you sign up for Amazon Student for $3.29 a month, that membership comes with the traditional Amazon Prime library — which rivals Netflix’s in terms of sheer film and television content. Amazon Student carries the added bonus of providing free Amazon shipping and exclusive savings on other items. Additionally, Spotify and Hulu teamed up in 2016 to create a $4.99 student discount, which grants access to both Spotify Premium and Hulu’s full film library.

Speaking of libraries, apart from getting a card at your local branch — most of whom still have a large DVD selection — consider signing up for Kanopy. This new service partners with public and university libraries across the country in order to give people free access to over 30,000 award-winning films (with a focus in classic movies and new, award-winning documentaries).

Ultimately, while finding the time and money to enjoy art forms like film can seem achievable while balancing the responsibilities of college life. However, with a bit of searching, your new favorite movie might only be a student ID away.

Monteil is a senior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism

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