From tattoos to tacos, students can save money with new app

Chris LaFoy

Student discounts can be a lifesaver for college students on tight budgets, and a new mobile phone application aims to help Grand Valley State University students put their ID cards to good use.

Vidappe is available in Apple’s App Store and the Android Market. Star Li developed and continues to maintain and update this program.

“There are tons of opportunities to save money out there,” Li said. “Vidappe helps people locate them.”

Once a user had downloaded the app, they pick the discounts they are eligible for. Under Michigan’s category, users will see “Grand Valley State University.” Once a user has picked this option, the app will register him for all discounts available through GVSU.

Using GPS, the app will alert the user when he or she is in proximity of a business that offers a discount for having a GVSU student ID. Users can also browse through eight categories of discounts including hotels, museums, entertainment and food and drinks.

Typical discounts are between 10 and 20 percent off of food or merchandise. Some businesses offer additional free products with a purchase, while others offer free products for coming in for the first time.

Dozens of discounts are available; the options listed through Vidappe were compiled by GVSU Pew Student Services.

“I don’t contact the businesses to find the discounts,” Li said. “Your school already did that for you. I just help you find and use them.”

Li, a Cornell University graduate and Los Angeles resident, thought of the app as a business project during her senior year of college.

“After graduation I went to work for American Express for a year,” Li said. “I decided that I wanted to make this app real, I’m now working full time maintaining it.”

The name comes from a melding of two separate terms. The first is “vida,” meaning life, and the second is “lagniappe,” which means a gift or present given to a customer after a purchase.

Although the app is a national brand and has programs in 36 states, Li is familiar with GVSU.

“Grand Valley was added to the app really early in the process,” Li said. “Your Student Services website had all the information available, I just had to format it.”

Although students will find this app particular helpful, Li said she is continuing to add programs that make discounts available to anyone, not just university students and staff.

Some mobile apps charge for their service. Vidappe is free.

“It’s free now and will always be free,” Li said. “The point is to save money, not spend more.”

California and New York currently have the most discount programs, but Michigan is fourth on the list. Nine Michigan universities have submitted their discounts to be a part of Vidappe.

Li said she enjoys being able to maintain Vidappe full time and hopes to release more apps in the future.

A list of all of the available student discounts is also available on GVSU’s website under Pew Student Services.

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