40,095 dollars. 

That’s the average estimated cost of attendance for in-state students living off-campus at UC Santa Cruz in 2023. 

$15,288 of that total goes to tuition and fees alone. 

As a student, you deserve to know what services and resources are included in your tuition. To help, City on a Hill Press has compiled a list of free resources and student discounts in and around Santa Cruz so you can get the most out of your dollar at UCSC.

Food ‘n Stuff

  • Cowell Coffee Shop: Here, you can get free coffee and try a rotating menu of warm and cold dishes to sustain you while on campus for class or work. The menu incorporates seasonal fruits and vegetables grown on UCSC’s campus farm.
  • Redwood Free Market: Located in Rachel Carson College, the Redwood Free Market has coffee, shelf-stable groceries, fresh produce from gardens around campus, toiletries, and menstrual products — all for free. 
  • CalFresh/SNAP: CalFresh, also known as food stamps, is a food benefit program for low-income families and individuals to help them fulfill their nutritional needs. CalFresh benefits appear on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and can be used at participating grocery stores and farmers markets to purchase groceries. Students who have a major designated as a Local Program that Increases Employability (LPIE) and/or students awarded work study, Cal Grant A or B automatically qualify for CalFresh.

Professional Software

  • Adobe Suite: Adobe’s entire suite of software is available to UCSC students through the Creative Cloud application. This includes Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and Lightroom. After installing Creative Cloud, enter your UCSC email address and select “company or school account.” 
  • Autodesk: You have free access to Autodesk’s 3D modeling software for architects and engineers. Autodesk’s library includes 3D modeling and animation, rendering, and design software. Search “Autodesk Education” in your browser to find student access .
  • Look to UCSC’s student software page for a full list of other resources! 

Movies, Music, and More

  • Equipment Rental: At McHenry Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship on the first floor, students can check out equipment like drawing tablets, cameras, and audio equipment. 
  • Discounted Spotify Premium: Already paying for Spotify Premium? Switch your account to the discounted student rate by signing into your Spotify account, choosing “access overview,” and then clicking the button labeled “get premium student.” You will be prompted to verify your student status and your billing will change to represent the discounted rate. 
  • University Library Streaming: Hundreds of titles are available free to stream through various licensed streaming platforms including:
  • Swank licensed streaming: free content including blockbuster movies, cult classics, and even Disney movies.
  • UCSC Kanopy: In addition to a wide variety of acclaimed films, UCSC Kanopy grants students access to a host of BBC television and film content. 
  • UCSC-Owned Streaming Content: an eclectic collection of films and video, mostly unordered. 
  • Academic Video Online (AVON): Includes documentaries about the lives of famous figures and educational films detailing significant events like the Scientific Revolution. They even have instructional videos on how to ask for a pay raise and how to remember people’s names. 
  • Xfinity On Campus: if you live on campus, Xfinity is included in your housing package. It includes channels for your TV, or you can watch on your computer, phone, or iPad. You can also sign into streaming services like Max (HBO) with Xfinity On-Campus — just select “connect to your provider” when going to sign up. 

Museums and Attractions

  • Museums for All: The Museums for All program aims to expand the availability of museum spaces. Students receiving CalFresh can visit participating museums for free or for a reduced fee. The full list is available at museums4all.org but includes:
  • The California Academy of Sciences Museum 
  • The deYoung and the Legion of Honour Museums
  • Discover and Go: This program awards free and low-cost tickets to over 100 museums and attractions on a first come first serve basis. To reserve a free or discounted visit, you must have a library card from a Santa Cruz County library and make a reservation on the Discover and Go website. 

Talk About ‘Free Press’

  • New York Times: In 2020, the Student Union Assembly (SUA) partnered with the New York Times (NYT) to give UCSC students free access to NYT online published content until graduation. This free subscription only includes news and does not cover additional content like NYT Crossword or Cooking. To access your free NYT account, visit nytimesineducation.com, select University of California Santa Cruz from the dropdown menu, and enter your UCSC email address. 
  • Lookout Santa Cruz: Lookout, a local news organization in Santa Cruz, provides UCSC students with free access to their online content with their student email address. Go to lookout.co/santacruz/student-access to get free access and to start reading. 

Being a student is inherently expensive, but there are ways to mitigate your expenses by  taking advantage of the resources available to you as a UCSC student. This list doesn’t include every opportunity, and there are lots of other ways to save money as a student. We’re here to get you started, but always do your own research, too!