One thing's certain: If you're in college, you're probably broke. Luckily, there are enough free and cheap activities in Portland that even Scrooge McDuck could have a great time! Wait. There are two things for certain. The second is that Scrooge McDuck is kind of a racist caricature. Sorry, Scottish people! As an apology, please accept this guide to free and cheap activities. Something tells me you'll love it!
MUSIC: Every week, Al's Den (303 SW 12th, mcmenamins.com) hosts a different band that performs a free show every night! Music Millennium (3158 E Burnside, musicmillennium.com) has free in-store performances, Mississippi Studios (3939 N Mississippi, mississippistudios.com) has occasional free shows, and, in the summer, the Doug Fir (830 E Burnside, dougfirlounge.com) has free patio shows.
MOVIES: Bars like the Tanker (4825 SE Hawthorne, tankerbar.com) and the Blind Onion Pizza Pub (3345 NE Broadway, blindonion.com) have weekly free movie nights, while theaters like the Laurelhurst (2735 E Burnside, laurelhursttheater.com) and the Academy (7818 SE Stark, academytheaterpdx.com) only charge $4. The first Friday of every month, the Bagdad (3702 SE Hawthorne, mcmenamins.com) hosts the $3 cortandfatboy Midnight Movie, and free screenings sometimes pop up at the Northwest Film Center (1219 SW Park, nwfilm.org). PSU's Fifth Ave Cinema (510 SW Hall, 5thavenuecinema.org) is free if you're a PSU student, only $3 for everyone else, and there's FREE POPCORN FOR ALL. In the summer, Portland Parks & Rec (portlandonline.com) shows free movies outdoors, as does Pioneer Courthouse Square (thesquarepdx.org).
BOOKS: Powell's locations (powells.com) host free readings, and Sundays at Backspace (115 NW 5th) there's the $5 Portland Poetry Slam (facebook.com/portlandpoetryslam). Quarterly comics showcase Comics Underground (comicsunderground.com)—which, in a tiny conflict of interest, is put on by two Mercury editors—is $3 at the Jack London Bar (529 SW 4th, rialtopoolroom.com). And don't forget the library (multcolib.org)! Read their books! Use their computers to look at porn!
POLITICS: Every Wednesday at 9:30 am at Portland City Hall (1221 SW 4th), Portland City Council practices their passive-aggressive sniping skills! Free! Cheer on your favorite! It's like The Hunger Games!
CULTURE: The Portland Art Museum (portlandartmuseum.org) has free admission the last Friday of every month from 5-8 pm. Prefer art made out of real live people? Get discounted rush tickets from Portland Center Stage (pcs.org), Artists Repertory Theatre (artistsrep.org), and Portland Opera (portlandopera.com). For cheap (and good) plays, check out Theatre Vertigo (theatrevertigo.org) and Action/Adventure Theater (actionadventure.org).
TV: Some theaters host free screenings of shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad (look in the Mercury's Movie Times). And every Saturday, the partially-Doctor Who-themed Fish & Chip Shop (1218 N Killingsworth, thefishandchipshop.com) shows... something. I can't remember what it's called. Inspector Spacetime, maybe?
BIKES: Surprising no one, Portland is full of free things to do on a bike: Pedalpalooza, the World Naked Bike Ride, Sunday Parkways, ad infinitum. Keep an eye on shift2bikes.org.
TRIVIA: There's Geek Trivia every other Tuesday at the Kennedy School (5736 NE 33rd, mcmenamins.com), Shanrock's Triviology at a slew of bars every Monday-Thursday (shanrockstrivia.com), and, every Sunday at the Fixin' To in St. Johns (8218 N Lombard, thefixinto.com), trivia with witty and seductive former Mercury Editor Katie Shimer.
MONDAY FUNDAY: During otherwise delightful summer evenings, Portland's most obnoxious people converge at Colonel Summers Park (SE 17th and Taylor) to hang out, play games, and be obnoxious.
VIDEOGAMES: You suck at Ms. Pac-Man, so Ground Kontrol (511 NW Couch, groundkontrol.com) routinely takes your precious laundry quarters. But on the last Wednesday of every month, $5 gets you in and the games are all free.
SWIMMIN': The mighty Willamette: free! Sure, you might find a body in it, and yes, nutria use it as an orgy pit. But if you can't handle seeing a fully erect nutria gnaw its way out of a bloated human corpse, maybe it's time you grow up, you whiny little baby.