Post high school education is more expensive than ever. Tuition rates alone have increased at three times the rate of inflation over the past 25 years, and the trend doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Unfortunately, tuition is only one aspect of your total college bill, with books and supplies commanding another significant portion. You might not be able to do much to change the cost of tuition, but you can save money on your college supplies by following a few simple tips.
Save Money on College Textbooks
College texts represent a significant chunk of your supply load, with some textbooks costing in excess of $100 a copy. There are a few ways you can save on your college textbooks:
- Don’t buy unless you have to. Students often think they will reuse their books after the semester is over, only to find that they gather dust on bookshelves. Unless the book will have use after graduation, rent it instead of buying – it’s more cost effective. If it is not available for rent, buy used.
- Amazon is running a rental service for the 2019-2020 school year that can help college students save on their books – some 90% off retail prices for purchase.
- Act early and see if you can borrow a copy of your textbook from the local library. Many libraries also have a digital reserve for certain texts, so ask your librarians if that is an option.
Get Your Supplies for Less
The college semester requires an abundance of supplies such as notebooks, pens, highlighters, and any special supplies that may be required for more advanced courses. To save on the basics, consider these options:
- Visit back to school fairs and orientation events on campus, which may offer “swag bags” filled with essential school supplies.
- Stick to dollar bins at stores like Target and your local dollar store for supplies like pens, highlighters, and folders.
- Buy only what you need and what you will use.
Save on Technology
First year college students may have significant expenses such as laptops or tablets, which can pose a financial burden. To save money on technological expenses, think about these cost saving techniques:
- Skip the Apple store. The brand conscious college freshman will probably be tempted to go straight for the MacBook pro, but the average college student does not need the features. There are plenty of budget models available that can do exactly what you need: run a word processing program for papers and surf the internet.
- Buy refurbished. If you do need a specialty computer to run programs for majors such as architecture or engineering, check for certified refurbished models at manufacturer outlets or trusted sites such as
College is a monumental time in a student’s life. It should not be marred by the stress of shopping for school supplies. By following some simple tips – such as renting digital copies of books, buying used, and shopping for refurbished models of computers – you could save hundreds of dollars on your back to school lists. Remember to only buy what you need – fancy and brand conscious supplies are fun, but they are not worth going into additional student loan debt over.