Welcome to college. Unless Mommy and Daddy are as generous with their cash as a bored college kid is with a poke button, you will hereby be broke for the next four years. It doesn’t matter if you work, it doesn’t even matter if you have savings. Between beer and books, be prepared to spend most of college strapped for cash.

But your newfound poverty doesn’t mean you have to scrimp when it comes to culture. You are also about to become a member of a community of college students, and where there are college students, there is also always plenty of art, music, film and entertainment to be had for the price of a pizza or less.

Going to the movies these days can be about as big of a rip-off as buying your friends Facebook gifts, but fortunately for film buffs, Isla Vista offers plenty of ways to see something on the silver screen without doing any serious spending. Magic Lantern Films, funded and coordinated by various on-campus administrative entities, offers an eclectic lineup of first-rate, second-run and independent movies that screen every Friday night in I.V. Theater. Screenings generally start at 7 and 9:30 p.m., and tickets are usually only $4. For a full lineup of upcoming screenings, check out www.magiclanternfilms.org or www.myspace.com/magiclantern.

From their MySpace page, you can also link to the MySpace page for Associated Students’ Program Board, which screens free films every Tuesday in I.V. Theater and offers free or close-to-it live shows by artists as diverse as Damian Marley, Ben Kweller and Gunther & The Sunshine Girls. And, if you’re looking for music that is a little more local, be sure to check out www.myspace.com/islavistamusic and www.myspace.com/kcsb for listings of local shows by I.V.-based bands, as well as visiting groups from afar. These shows tend to take place in garages, on patios, behind restaurants and the like, so the cost of admission is usually a few bucks or a few beers – definitely worth it to experience the best of what local bands have to offer.

UCSB’s Arts & Lectures also offers film screenings, as well as lectures, live performances and theater. Its website is http://artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu/index.aspx. Student ticket deals are always available, and they are worth taking advantage of.

If you feel like screening a film in the privacy of your own home, be sure to check out Emerald Video, located at 6547 Pardall Rd. This movie rental mecca is staffed with some of the best and brightest film geeks around, and they have everything from new releases to offbeat and often hard to find indie and foreign flicks. To get the biggest bang for your buck, check out the specials section of their website, at http://www.emeraldvideo.net/specials.htm. Another great rental option is www.netflix.com, which offers plans as low as $4.99 a month. Film majors and film buffs alike should definitely keep this in mind, as Netflix makes for a handy way to catch up on missed in-class screenings without worrying that everyone else in your class has already emptied out the inventory at Emerald.

If your interests are more Picasso than Pasolini, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to enjoy Santa Barbara’s extensive art scene. Make sure you check out the State Street art walks that happen on the first Thursday of every month. On 1st Thursdays, many of the galleries, venues and studios on State Street stay open later than usual and feature new exhibits, musical performances and, most importantly for students, free food and wine. The whole thing is free, and a great way to experience Santa Barbara’s vibrant art scene. For a more traditional art-viewing experience, check out the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which offers free admission on Sundays. The University Art Museum, located on campus, also offers free admission and an ever-changing array of eclectic exhibitions and events. And, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, located in the Paseo Nuevo shopping center on State Street, also offers incredible art and events with no admission fee.

With all these great way to experience culture that don’t empty your cash supply, you have no excuse for sitting at home. So stop double clicking your mouse, get off your Facebook and make sure you check out some of Artsweek’s favorite places to enjoy entertainment for less. We promise that your wall will still be there when you get back.