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Your Take: Student Discounts When Not A Student?

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Graduation CupcakeLifehacker shared a list of tips on how to get student discounts long after you’ve graduated and many of the tips resort to forgery. For some people it’s not an issue, I mean it’s a dog eat dog world and you have to do whatever it takes to shave a dollar off movie ticket prices or get a discount on travel. For others, it smacks of unethical behavior. For people like me, it’s a gray area.

My feeling is that if you are forging stickers or class schedules or entire IDs, you’re doing something wrong. If you have an expired ID and you present it as your student ID, then that’s OK but in that gray area. It’s a little like getting a “senior” discount when you look older but you may not necessarily fall into the age range.

What do you think?

(Photo: clevercupcakes)

{ 60 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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60 Responses to “Your Take: Student Discounts When Not A Student?”

  1. elloo says:

    Kosmo, I’m sure your wife is a wonderful person, but what kind of example is she giving your kids? They hear all of this, as you are well aware. You are a stand-up guy. Good for you.

  2. echidnina says:

    Ehh, I wouldn’t show an expired ID for a discount. And faking schedules or getting some other kid to get a discount for you is absolutely wrong.

    There’s only one situation where I’ve skirted something like a ‘student discount’ – I’ve used my undergrad ID to log into the college library’s website, in order to access journal articles while researching my graduate degree. Maybe that’s unethical, but the university could’ve easily deactivated my account once I graduated so I didn’t have access, but I still do. And I like to think that I’m using that resource in the spirit in which it was given to me, pursuing knowledge for academics, albeit at a different university.

  3. I got a student discount on my MacBook Pro even though I was away on educational leave. I think you should still be able to qualify for them if you’re about a year or so out.

  4. Honesty and integrity are everything. Justifying fraud because of feelings of entitlement (“the big guys are screwing us over”) doesn’t fix anything. What kind of example does that set for our children and the important people in our lives.

    I’m broke, and I can use all the discounts I can get. But I’m not willing to cheat to get them.

  5. Komplex says:

    Well, I work for a university, the way I get around it is “Can I show you my University ID?”

  6. If you have to show an old ID to get a discount because you are that hard-pressed to get a couple of bucks off something, you need to evaluate where you’re at financially.

    I don’t know… for me, if somebody was taking advantage of an offer that my business was allowing for students, I would rather JUST students take advantage of that offer.

    It’s an ethical thing to me… my integrity is worth a bit more than 2 bucks off a movie ticket or whatever…

    Just my thought…

  7. I do it — but I’m still a “part time” student… why not? Its there for the taking!

    • echidnina says:

      A part time student is still a student! I don’t see any issue with that. If you’re paying tuition, you’re entitled to the benefits.

  8. John says:

    Slice it and dice it any way you want, but stealing is stealing.

  9. saladdin says:

    People’s integrity is situational. Ethics have loopholes. And morals are optional.

    Which is then taught to their kids.

    An even better example to me are promo deals that say “1 per household” but people will create 50 different email addresses to get extra promo codes to then resale.

    What a crappy world this is with everyone trying to get one over on a stranger.


  10. Justine says:

    Remember the “Golden Rule”, treat others as you would like to be treated, you be the judge!:)

  11. Aaron says:

    I wouldn’t go the least bit out of my way to obtain a discount that I wasn’t intended to be entitled to. Not because it would trigger a feeling of dishonesty (although I don’t like to think that I would go out of my way to cheat someone), but because it triggers a feeling of helplessness and poverty. I don’t ever want to feel that I’m hard up enough for both some product or service and a couple of bucks that I would misrepresent myself for a discounted price.

    But I also realize that many people have become accustomed to thinking of themselves as poor, and of many businesses as being dishonest (i.e., deserving of being lied to). I’m just holding out against that for as long as I can.

  12. Scott says:

    I came into this thread thinking this was gray and leaning on wrong. But after reading Hannah’s comment above and thinking back to my ECON 002 class in college, I realize that the college ID helps to collect some of the deadweight loss, just like coupons and other discounts do. After I visit an online store and select some items to buy, is it wrong for me to go to another site and look for a coupon to use? No. Same here – if me using my expired ID got me to go to that business over another business, then they’re probably happy I used my expired ID. Let’s say they call me on it – chances are I’ll take my business elsewhere that gives me a better price sans discount.

    I say go for it.

  13. Nikki says:

    Well riddle me this……

    Local ski area charges $45 for an all-day adult lift ticket. Mind you, this is a local hill in central NY…not a fancy resort. Seniors always ski free and college students always ski all day for $15.

    I don’t know about any of you, but I know that I (and most of my friends my age) had more SPENDING money while in college than we have now that we’re out in the real world…maybe due in part to the recession, but mostly due to the fact that we now have bills such as rent, utilities, insurance, etc. to pay. I had jobs (usually more than one at a time) all through high school and college, but I didn’t have a single bill to pay. I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending $45 on a lift ticket back then…nor did I think twice about spending $400 of my own money every year from 9th grade to my senior year of college on season’s passes. Skiing was something I loved to do and the ONLY reason I tolerated Central NY winters.

    Now that I’m out in the real world, I have to budget and can’t afford a lot of the recreational activities I grew up with. I work full time, periodically pick up part time work when there’s something I know I’ll need extra money for, rarely go out to eat, bought a used car to avoid a car payment and I would LOVE to blow off some winter steam on the slopes, but that $45 could buy me a weeks worth of groceries, a tank of gas or pay half my electric bill…

    As of today we’ve had a total of 103.5 inches of snow fall here…it’s dreary and depressing and I’ve got a mean case of cabin fever…that $15 student lift ticket’s starting to sound a LOT more appealing. Consider my moral compass broken.

  14. eric says:

    I still use my student discount for online things. I don’t really do it in person.

  15. Jaime says:

    Yeah I don’t see how this is a gray area if you’re lying then you’re lying.

    If you’re so desperate for a student discount then go to cc and sign up for just one class, you’ll be able to get a student ID card based on that.

    If you’re going to Photoshop an id, or a student schedules then that is more work than its really worth. I’m 28 a non-traditional student but I really think people should be honest.

    I think if a person is trying to fake being a student to get some discount, then they should really evaluate their finances if they’re going to be that desperate.

  16. jsbrendog says:

    if people allow it, then it is ok. i still have my student id from college and grad school. no exp date, not date as of when i attended, only school name, pic, and date of birth. it’s great because you can be as old as you want and still be in grad school. i couldve dropped out and went back and just had the same picture used from 15 yrs ago.

  17. I went back to school in my late 40s to get the degree I couldn’t get as a young woman. To my annoyance I found that most of the student discounts that I wanted (e.g., professional theater, the annual garden show) specified students to be “age 25 and younger.”
    I was a full-time student, but I was too old for a discount. And no, I wasn’t rich; I was on scholarship (thank you!) but I had neither a working spouse nor a full-time job. In fact, I had divorce-related legal debt and several part-time jobs, and was helping support a disabled adult daughter.
    God bless the Seattle Symphony, because it didn’t limit the age. If I could scrape up $10 I could hear wonderful music down in the fancy section.
    Sure would have liked to see more theater than I did, though.
    For what it’s worth, I think that forging a student ID is wrong. You are lying to get something from which you are specifically excluded, i.e., no longer a student. I agree: Your mothers would be embarrassed. Unless you’re one of Kosmo’s kids. 😉

  18. crimzon76 says:

    I was a student who took a break and went back to finish my last year (back in 2002). At that time they had to issue a new ID (the first one expired) which was good for a few years. I did use it at the movies and didn’t feel the least bit guilty. I was a student and paid my dues plus I will probably go for another degree soon. I didn’t forge it. If some place offers a discount to flash my ID, I figured who cares? It was the same price as a matinee. Not like it hurt anything. I was still paying for the movie. I really didn’t use it anywhere else. I hardly even used it at school. HAHA

  19. Anita Li says:


    My name is Anita Li; I’m a reporter for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.

    I was wondering if someone would be willing to speak to me on-the-record about continuing to use their university student discount even after graduating (for clothes, the gym, transit, etc.)? I’d like to speak to a Canadian student.

    Please contact me at or via


  20. There are many ways to get discounts without investing your time in forging student ID, etc. The internet comes to mind, and you can print out coupons for many places.

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