I'm in college too; but I have an apartment, so there's no limit on the size of my tank. I'm by no means an expert. As a matter of fact, I just added my first few fish to my aquarium about 12 hours ago. This is my first post in this group, so I'm a true rookie aside from growing up in a home that has always had fish. I am, however, a thrifty college pet owner. If you're living on the basic ramen/macaroni/pb&j diet that I'm on, this might help you. FreeCycle:
If you're in or near a larger city, this a great thing to look up. Post a want add for an aquarium or even the fish themsevles. I answered an offer ad by a nice lady in a town 30 miles away from mine that was giving away healthy mollies and guppies (my fish of choice because they're cool looking and livebearers). She also happened to have some extra tanks and sold me one for really cheap when I went to pick up my fish. Even if there aren't any fish enthusiasts in the local Freecycle group, it's still a great group for poor college students and a lifetool for those of us with useless majors ;).
I know I've read a lot of detrimental things about PetSmart in just the last hour that I've been browsing this site. Something to keep in mind, however, is the store policy that they can't sell the babies. I don't know if that's universal, but in Lincoln Nebraska, if you can walk in and point out some babies, you can keep them. It's a nice bit of mystery not to be quite sure what it is you're getting, male/female... mikeymouse-fin/potbellied... and when they grow up to be beautiful, all the better. GoodWill:
If nothing else, they'll probably have something cheap you can put the tank on, like a tv stand... maybe some trinket you could boil and boil and boil again and clean 20 times and use as an ornament, though... I'm not sure if that's really okay or just something my parents think is okay. Good luck.