Between tuition and textbooks, rent payments and transit fares, there's only so much money that a poor university student living on bank loans and [[ScholarshipStudent scholarships]] is able to put towards food. The StarvingStudent is a staple of higher education settings, where even those lucky enough to have financial support from their parents will still be thinking of money in values of mac and cheese boxes or [[UsefulNotes/RamenAsDehydratedNoodles instant noodles]]. The starving student will often have a rigid budget and spend their entire academic career just scraping by for necessities like clothing and food (but not, of course, for alcohol).

This trope is often TruthInTelevision, as college loans are very expensive (growing moreso in some places) and keep many students in debt for years. This results in years of struggling to get by just to pay off their education, which has a higher priority than buying food. In fiction, it is generally played for comedy, especially when the character is also a BigEater, but it can be milked for drama at the drop of a hat.

Cousin to the StarvingArtist. Expect it to appear in a BrokeEpisode.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Ewon Jung of ''TotallyCaptivated'', an orphaned ScholarshipStudent who falls in with a group of loan sharks, calculates a conman's loan in terms of boxes of ramen at one point and will go along with almost anything for a free meal.
* Most of the cast of ''HoneyAndClover'', especially because they're [[StarvingArtist art students]].
* In ''LoveHina'', a recurring subplot is Keitaro looking for a job to pay for his studies. Made worse in that he routinely loses money to the PrettyFreeloaders' hijinks.
* In ''MaisonIkkoku'', Godai works to pay for his studies, but he never has money for anything. And when he has some money, he spends it on presents for Kyoko.
* In ''FruitsBasket'', Tohru Honda was this in the first episode, while she was living in a tent.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* The [[Film/SpiderMan Spider-Man movies]] reflect this. Particularly the second movie which has Peter Parker struggling through college without money, his superhero identity compounding his hardships.
* This is why Laura of ''Film/StudentServices'' goes into prostitution.

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[[folder: Folklore ]]

* Such a student is the defendant in a Judge Ooka case; he is sued by a restaurant owner because he mentioned to a friend that he used the delicious smells of the restaurant to give imaginary flavor to the one bowl of rice he could have a day. Judge Ooka, being wise, declared that the sound of money was the correct payment for the smell of food.
** The same story is told in Central Asia and Middle East about [[TricksterArchetype Hojja Nasreddin]] when he was appointed as a judge.

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[[folder: Jokes ]]

* A joke has a student go to a doctor, complaining constipation. The doctor examines him and writes a prescription: "Eat something."

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* OlderThanPrint: The Clerk of Oxford (essentially a philosophy student) from ''Literature/TheCanterburyTales'' is an example.
* Raskolnikov from ''Literature/CrimeAndPunishment'' was like this.
* Kvothe's struggle to come up with his tuition money drives a large part of the plot of ''TheNameOfTheWind'' and ''TheWiseMansFear''.
* Marius from ''Literature/LesMiserables'' becomes this after he's kicked out by his grandfather. Many of the other students help him out at various points, especially Courfeyrac who shares a flat with him for a while.
** Although, considering the poverty many of the ''other'' characters face, Marius's plight doesn't seem too bad by comparison.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* While they aren't students anymore, one episode of ''{{Scrubs}}'' notes that JD, Turk and the other interns (apart from Elliot, whose parents pay for everything) have to steal hospital supplies to make ends meet.
* Taken to ridiculous extremes (like everything else) in ''TheYoungOnes''.
* In ''ThreesCompany'', this is why Jack moves in with the girls. He's a starving cooking school student.
** Very easily a TruthInTelevision, as good cooking schools can be ''ridiculously'' expensive. Though students are usually able to eat their projects afterwards.
* Implied with Malcolm in ''MalcolmInTheMiddle'', who is last seen in the finale quite cheerfully slaving as a campus janitor in between attending class -- [[IvyLeague at Harvard.]] One of the plotlines of the episode had involved the family worrying that they wouldn't be able to afford his tuition and the choice between getting an education and going on to do great things, or taking a corporate job offer with a six-figure salary, so it's a CrowningMomentOfAwesome, not a case of misfortune.

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[[folder: Opera ]]

* Symon, the titular character from ''Der Bettelstudent'' (The Beggar Student).

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''BrokenSword'' Nico mentions that she had to drop out of university because of this trope (she couldn't afford art supplies, although she was able to eat potatoes when she was doing printing with them).
* You play one in ''VideoGame/TheTrailOfAnguish'', forcing you to stay in a rundown dorm.
* ''VideoGame/DeadOrAlive: Dimensions'' reveals that Kasumi attempted to be an OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent in-between the events of ''3'' and ''4'', but it doesn't work out very well; Kokoro finds her collapsed on the road with a high fever.

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[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Basically the entire cast of ''Webcomic/PhD''.

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[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Foul Bachelor Frog is a [[MemeticMutation meme]] (of the [[ImageMacro advice dog]] variety) which shows a frog making comments on the stereotypical college student's life. Part of the memes are about this trope, while others are about WackyFratboyHijinx or ADateWithRosiePalms. (At other times, Foul Bachelor Frog is just ''[[TheSlacker lazy]]'': several of the memes are about how he has lots of food in the fridge, but chooses to starve because none of it can be prepared in less than two minutes. Or else he is rich enough to order take-away all the time because he doesn't have any clean plates.)

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[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Marie Curie was literally one of these while attending the Sorbonne. She actually lived in a garret in the French Quarter, surviving on pennies and often [[ForgetsToEat forgetting to eat]]. She passed out at least once at school (between classes, not during class as in the movie).
* The New England Journal of Medicine described, in the late 1990s, several cases of scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency) seen in students who had chosen a severely restricted diet - consisted almost entirely of instant noodles - because of cost.
* Due to the 2008 economic recession, many American universities have had to open food banks and pantries to feed their low-income students, some of whom are also homeless or unable to pay the most basic of bills. It is no longer unusual to see or hear about college students going for days without a single meal.
* From personal experience, this troper knows that [[UsefulNotes/AustralianSchoolSystem some Australian universities]], [[spoiler: such as University of Western Sydney]], attempt to [[AvertedTrope avert this trope]] by offering their students free sausage sizzles and/or breakfasts (although how frequently such services are offered varies from uni to uni and campus to campus).
* Likewise, at the primary and secondary levels in the US, many schools run free lunch programs for low-income students to avert this trope.
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