If you're taking at least one photography class, you can have your equipment costs included in student loans. If you haven't maxed out your subsidized student loan amount, that's a great option to buy now and pay when you're actually making money. However, it wouldn't make sense to use unsubsidized student loans for that purpose, as the interest would make the equipment cost much more by the time you graduate.
File your FAFSA then talk to the financial aid department at your school.
I'd also recommend students talk to the marketing/PR people at whatever college or university they attend and ask if they're looking for a student photographer. Most schools hire student to cover events for them (and if you can write in AP style, all the better). They'll probably have equipment for you to use that you might not be able to afford on your own. Even if they don't though, it's an invaluable resume and portfolio building opportunity.
At a larger university, each area of campus might have its own PR/marketing people, so you can ask around in each area. At a smaller college, those functions will probably be centralized in one department. Regardless, make sure to bring a portfolio and resume whenever you ask about jobs. I work for the Marketing Communications department at a small college, and we are always on the lookout for talented student workers, but I'm also often surprised by just how little they know about how to find a job.
As for the original question, lenses won't only last longer, I think they will have more effect on the images you create than bodies; however, that can also depend on what type of shots you want. I shoot a lot of events for work with my personal (and hopefully soon-to-be replaced) D5000, which I bought as a starter so I could afford good glass. My more experienced coworker shoots with the office D300s, which he invariably pairs with a slow lens and a good flash. I won't deny his studio portraiture is better than mine, but my event and sports images are better than his because I've built a collection of f/1.4 primes and f/2.8 zooms over the last couple years.