Re: Louisiana Newbie!
Welcome to the forum. Seems like we had a contest on this site a while back for the cheapest build. It would be full of tips for stretching the money.
Anyway, I doubt you have much time to tinker if you are an engineering student. A hard tail bike will be an easier build and require less chain maintenance. Good luck.
“You're only young once, but you can be immature as long as you like" -Unknown