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20 Freebies for Those With College-Age Kids (Or Young Ones)

Parenting isn't cheap. This helps a little.

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illustration of parents doing free things with their kids such as getting lunch and going to a museum
Hye Jin Chung
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The Girlfriend is celebrating its 100th issue today! And we couldn't have done it without you. So we're rolling out 100 things you can get for free in 2019. Enjoy! Because everybody needs a Girlfriend.

Raising a child isn't an inexpensive undertaking. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the average parent will shell out more than $233,000 over 18 years, excluding the cost of college. The good news is that there are plenty of freebies to take advantage of, whether you're the parent of a toddler or a university student. Here are 20 of them.

College-student freebies

1. College students can get free software as long as they have a valid school email address. For example, students and teachers can access Office 365 Education, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams and other tools. Beyond Microsoft, free software for college students is available from Intel Free Software Tools, LastPass Premium (free for six months) and Tableau (for an analytics package).

2. College students also can enjoy six months of Amazon Prime for free through Amazon Prime Student. Not only does this include free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase, but there's also the unlimited free streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, unlimited Prime reading, and unlimited storage for your photos. Just remember that after the six-month free period ends, they'll automatically renew you for Amazon Prime at a special student rate. But you'll have the opportunity to cancel before this happens.

3. Many banks offer free checking accounts to college students. U.S. Bank and Bank of America are just two such institutions that offer accounts with none of those pesky monthly maintenance fees everybody else has to pay. Both Nerdwallet and Wallet Hacks keep a good running list of free student checking accounts.

4. Who doesn't love free food!?! Various services connect students with free food on their college campus. One is called Lunch Box. Another is called Free Food on Campus. You can also check your email and scan Facebook for university events offering free food on any given day. In addition, various restaurants offer discounts and deals to students with an ID. All you have to do is ask if there's a student discount. Finally, you can get free drinks at Chipotle and Chick-fil-A with a food purchase and valid ID at participating locations. And there are quite a few free food and drink items to be had on certain days of the year called Freebie Days.

5. Many museums across the country offer free or heavily discounted admission fees to students. For example, MoMA is free for New York City college students all year around. (Children age 16 and younger are always free at MoMA.) Many museums that are on campuses also are free to students.

6. You can get a free membership to StudentUniverse, which offers cheap flights and discounted rates at dozens of airlines and hotel chains to members.

7. Design, animation, architecture and engineering students can download 3D software tools for free through Autodesk Software.

8. Retailers may not be handing out free clothes, but a lot of them offer discounts for students. J. Crew and Banana Republic, for example, give you 15 percent off. By asking about student discounts, you could save anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent or more off certain items.

9. If you're a college student, you might need help budgeting your money. You Need a Budget is a website designed to help anyone with budgeting/finances. The service is offered free to college students.

10. Never again worry about losing a paper you've stored on the cloud! Students that sign up with their college email address get 2 GB free storage space on Dropbox.

Younger-kid freebies

1. Various cities offer free family-friendly movies at certain times of year — especially during the summer months. Chicago, for example, recently announced its lineup of movies in the park with free screenings as of June 4.

2. Free classes! Many retailers, including Pottery Barn Kids, Home Depot and Michaels craft stores, offer in-house classes and story hours for kids — for free — several times a month. This is a gold mine for parents looking for ways to keep their children busy, especially on rainy days.

3. Free food! For budget-conscious families, there's thankfully a growing number of restaurants offering free meals for kids. Check out this nifty site,, for a roundup of more than 5,000 restaurants offering free or discounted meals for kids. Furthermore, there are many national chains, including Applebee's, Bennigan's and Denny's, that allow kids to eat free on select days of the week.

4. Stickers: A wide range of companies offer free stickers to families that don't mind the promotion of products. And some are educational. PETA Kids, for example, mails out free stickers that are designed to teach kids about threatened animal populations. Meanwhile, clothing retailers such as Moosejaw also will send you free stickers after you fill out a form (although we're not sure what they look like!).

5. Free books! What's better than curling up with a good book? Depending on your location, kids age 5 and younger may be able to score free books once a month through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. There are also a growing number of Little Free Libraries popping up across the country, giving kids access to free books. Finally, kids in certain states can get free books through Read Conmigo, an English-Spanish book program that supports bilingual learning in kids from preschool through fifth grade. Also of note: LEGO creates a free magazine for kids age 5 to 10.

6. A federal public lands initiative aims to encourage fourth graders and their families to visit national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges and more. The "Every Kid in a Park" pass gives fourth graders free access.

7. If your kids have a lot of energy — and what kid doesn't? — why not take them roller-skating ... for free? The Kids Skate Free website allows you to register for free skating passes for children. There's a search engine so that you can find nearby skating centers that participate in this program.

8. Free camp! Is your kid interested in coding, robotics or moviemaking/storytelling? If so, you're in luck. Apple Camp is a free camp for kids age 8 to 12 that takes place each summer at Apple retail outlets. These three-day camps afford kids the chance to get hands-on experience using Apple products to create various projects. Check in with your nearest Apple store to find out dates and more information.

9. Many zoos offer free admission for kids on select days of the month. For example, free entry to the Houston Zoo is provided at various times during the year, usually on the first Tuesday of the month. At the Bronx Zoo, kids age 2 and younger always get in free. The Denver Zoo also offers free admission at certain times of the year.

10. For anyone expecting a baby or who has a baby, there are plenty of companies that offer free samples with an eye toward getting their products in the hands of new customers. Here's a good list of samples to try.

And here are other freebies — just for you!

20 Freebies For Your Home, Garden And Furry Friends

Your Ultimate List Of 20 Health, Fitness And Wellness Freebies

How To Bag 20 Style And Beauty Freebies