hi, i am also a poor college student. i am kinda new at this too, but here is what i think you should do.
the rule is 2 watts per gallon, so u need at least 60 watts of light. personally i would start with a foreground plant like dwarf hairgrass or somthing. you can leave your fish in the tank if you plant piece by piece. the dwarf hairgrass comes in small pots, you take it out of the pots and plant it in small plugs about the width of a pencil. space the plugs out about an inch apart, and in 3 to 4 months it will fill in giving you a nice foreground.
then you can add larger plants after that.
i suggest buying a christmas light timer and putting it on your lihting. they run $7 at walmart. run the lights for around 10 hours a day.
you will probably need c02, but you can find it in the do it yourself forum.