11 Cheap Date Ideas For When You're In College, Because It's A Broke Knock Life

by Christy Piña

Dating in college can be tricky. Between navigating long-distance relationships, meeting jerks left and right, and figuring out your life and your sexuality away from your parents and their over-protective eyes for the first time ever, it's a tricky, tricky time. But as the months pass, you start to get ahold of how dating in college works, and you may even meet someone you want to date exclusively. The only issue is... you're broke, which is why a handy list of cheap date ideas for when you're in college can help you woo this new person who has piqued your interest without running through all your money in one date.

Despite all the f*ckery you may encounter in the college dating world, people still say your college years are the the greatest years of your life. At this time in my life, I couldn't agree more. (Ask me again in 10 years, and we'll see if that's still my answer.) The weekends spent tailgating and cheering on my school's football team, the Greek events I attended after joining a sorority and dating a frat star, living with my some of my best friends — all these things contributed to the best time of my life. Ah, college.

In however many years you're in college for, you're constantly meeting new people, and some of those people are bound to pique your interest more than others. If you've found a person you want to date but you don't have the funds for a four-course meal, behold: 11 cheap AF date ideas that are perfect for college couples. Let's dive in.

Embrace your school spirit

Regardless of what school you go to, there are bound to be several cheap or free activities you can do without ever having to leave campus. Whether you spend next Saturday together cheering on your football team, or Friday night at your school's production of Annie, there are plenty of ways to embrace your school spirit on a date.


Going to the movie theater seems like such a played out date, but hey, it does the job for the low low. You get to spend some time with the person you like while also not having to spend too much cash flow. If you prefer to keep it low-key and stay in, you can always have a Netflix movie marathon, too. (No ~chill~ necessary if that's not what you want.) But don't forget the snacks!


Picnics are a little old school, I know, but they're a super cute date! If you've been dating someone for a bit and you want to do something special for them, putting together a basket of their favorite foods and drinks is a great option. Find a beautiful spot on or near campus and take them out for a sweet little surprise. They'll love it.

Breakfast in bed

Bringing someone breakfast in bed can easily be one of the most romantic things you can do for them. I would save this particular date for a little further down the line, since it's a little intimate. It's the perfect thing to do once you've established how much you both care about each other. And all you need are the groceries, which one (or both!) of you probably already has at your apartment anyway.

Study dates

OK, let's face it: At one point or another during college, you will have to study. You can either study alone and wallow in self-pity for waiting until the night before your midterm to study, or you can study alongside someone who also waited until the night before, making the fact that you procrastinated a little less awful. Misery loves company, am I right? Plus, studying together gives you the perfect excuse to do something cute for the apple of your eye. Surprise them with their favorite coffee and snacks for the long hours that await both of you.

Get in the holiday spirit

Fall semester comes with some major holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, just to name a few. There are plenty of activities you can do that go hand-in-hand with the time of year. In the days leading up to Halloween, you can carve pumpkins, go apple picking, or make it a mission to try every pumpkin spice latte in town. For Thanksgiving, you can bake pies together or make a list of the things you're thankful for. There are endless cheap date ideas you can run with this semester, so take advantage!

Scavenger hunt

This date takes a lot more effort than some of the other ones do, so I would save this until you're serious enough about them to put in the effort. Find spots around campus the two of you have gone together or that you know they love. Leave a clue in each place that leads them to the next one, and at the end of the scavenger hunt, make sure you're there with something special. It's super romantic, and cute, and gah! Just... please do it, so I can live vicariously through you.

Watch the sunrise and/or sunset

Find out which one your date prefers and make it a point to take them to watch either one. Throw in some wine, a blanket, and good conversation, and you've got yourself the simplest, yet super precious (and cheap) date.

Build a blanket fort

Building a blanket fort together is a fun, low-cost way of spending time with your crush and working together to create something. You can combine this date with your movie night in, and voila! You have an adorable date that won't burn a hole in your pocket. You own the sheets, you can stream the movie, and the only things you have to pay for are the popcorn and candy.


Baking is a simple but fun activity to do with someone special. The two of you can go to the grocery store together and choose what you want to bake. If you want to go the extra mile, you can agree to bake something from scratch. Either way, it'll be delicious and cute way to work together. Plus, you get something yum to indulge in after! Win/win.

Visit a local coffee shop

Coffee dates are my favorite. They can be a casual activity to do with friends just as easily as they can be a first date, where you can keep talking once you finish your coffee if you feel a connection with your date. Coffee shops also make it easy to bounce if things aren't going very well, or you can go on a coffee date with someone you've been dating for months! It works for every stage of your relationship, and you can opt for a casual coffee or pastry, so it shouldn't add up financially.

When you find someone you want to date in college, don't let money or the idea that you're supposed to spend your college years single keep you from taking that step. You don't want to miss out on something amazing, do you? Dating won't always be cheap — you have plenty of time to go on bougie dates after graduation, when you start getting paid for all the hard work you put in. But for now, remember: Just because you're not burning a hole in your pocket doesn't mean you can't plan incredibly sweet and fun dates. Enjoy it while you can, my friends. College flies!

Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!