How to... GET THINGS FOR FREE (OR REALLY CHEAP) 

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Oh, college! A time when important stuff like eating and staying healthy take a backseat to unimportant stuff like learning. If you're a spoiled rich kid, skip this section. But for those born with plastic spoons in their mouths, we've got advice for getting the essentials on the cheap.

FOOD: The human body constantly needs it, so getting a job at a restaurant or café can hook you up with free grub. The Portland Fruit Tree Project (portlandfruit.org) pays volunteer urban harvesters in pounds of fruit and Sisters of the Road (sistersoftheroad.org) runs a downtown café where you can volunteer to earn free lunch tickets. Also an option: dumpster-diving for food behind grocery stores. If you do, go vegetarian—spoiled meat isn't part of a healthy diet.

HEALTHCARE: Thanks to Obama's healthcare reform, students can now stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. If you're an old fogey, or your parents are insurance-less, never fear. Many colleges offer super cheap insurance to fulltime students—ask your college health center. Speaking of which, most schools' health centers have clinics that provide basic health and psychiatric services for cheap or free. Services, meds, and even insurance can all be charged to your accumulating student loan debt, which is preferable to a medical collection agency on your ass. Oh, and college clinics have free condoms. If your college doesn't have a clinic, Outside In (1132 SW 13th) offers great sliding-scale walk-in medical care to anyone in need and Planned Parenthood provides free or low-cost STD tests, birth control, and contraception.

ALCOHOL: Making friends with bartenders always pays off, but a better way to free booze is to stop by art openings. Wine galore! And remember there's no shame in downing others' half-finished drinks. (Yes, there is... but pretend there's not.)

FURNITURE: Curbside it. If you see couches, chairs, or desks on the roadside, stop, drop, and snag it! Portland's eastside streets tend to turn into a giant freebox around the end of the month when it's sunny. But be warned: Multnomah County health officials say bed bugs are out there.

TEXTBOOKS: They're expensive and boring. So get them used—preferably from other students—and always sell them when you're done. Or even better, look for the newest available edition at the library!

DRUGS: They’re fun (I’ve, uh, heard), and really expensive. And while the Mercury doesn’t endorse drug use*, we definitely don’t want you paying for them either. So get a rich kid to buy them for you. One local private college—which shall remain nameless—is notorious for wealthy druggies. Hang out there, hit their guilty rich kid buttons, and party like a really stoned rock star.

*Obviously we endorse drug use.

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