I've been a waitress for three years, and have seen the highs and lows of tipping (literally). While most of us realize that knowing how and when you should tip is a part of learning to adult, it can feel daunting as the fear of overspending in college is very real–yet, for too many, under-tipping can feel just as bad.

As a waitress, I recognize the reality that I, like most college students, are on a tight budget and are inclined to pinch pennies whenever possible. This is completely okay because I'm pretty certain that after midnight, your body cannot tell the difference between Taco Bell and sitting down at an authentic Mexican restaurant.  

In my experience, for the most part, college students leave an average tip, and are lovely customers to help. Wait staff rarely associate being over or under-tipped with a certain group of people. In case you are ever unsure of how much is appropriate, here are some things to consider when tipping on a college budget, as told by your woman on the inside.

Where That Dough Goes 

coffee, tea
Jaye Lind

For you readers out there who have not worked in a restaurant, consider the following: your tip is mostly going toward the server themselves, but they usually give a percentage to bartenders, security, cooks, bus boys, etc. So, when you tip your server, you're probably tipping everyone that was involved with your order.

What to Consider

vegetable, sauce
Walker Foehl

Because of this, knowing how and when to tip involves consideration of a few factors including the type of restaurant, what you ordered, time spent there, quality of service, quality of food, etc. When you are deciding how much to give, and you haven't decided on a set percentage that you give every time, try thinking of these.

If your food takes longer than expected to come out, but your drinks are delicious and your server is friendly, skimping out on a tip probably isn't the best idea, as this usually just indicates that the kitchen was backed up. However, if the service is poor, and your food/drink is also poorly made, then a smaller tip is quite okay.

There are also different situations in which how much you tip could vary. If you sit down and have a full meal, well-prepared and served, during a dinner rush at a restaurant, then tipping 15%-20% is usually expected. However, one dollar per beverage when you're just having a drink in an empty bar is likewise acceptable. 

red wine, whisky, liquor, alcohol, wine
 Devon Carlson

If you don't feel comfortable tipping because of the tight financial situations that many college students find themselves in, try to factor that in when you decide where/when you are going to eat out. Here are some ideas for fun options of several kinds and prices near the U of MN campus.

There is only one situation in which I will always tip, and that is when a tip jar on the counter has a sign that is so clever that it makes my day. I can go to a restaurant and eat the worst pizza I have ever had, but if they have a tip jar saying "we knead the dough," I will be getting out my wallet– I need no more justification than that.