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Discount College Supplies

Once you figure out how you will pay for college you also need to consider the expenses associated with attending a college or university. These range from supplies required for classes like books and computers to optional items you'll want to stay organized and decorate your dorm room. Keeping your supplies in check in terms of what is really needed and what is not will help keep your expenses to a minimum.



Books for classes can be a major expense for college. If possible, avoid buying new books. College bookstores have book buy-back programs that allow students to resell their textbooks at the end of the academic year to get a portion of the purchase price back. These books are then resold at a discount (compared to new book prices) to incoming students.

In addition, many online texts can be purchased as e-books. Textbooks that have an expired U.S. copyright can often be found for free online. A popular and respected resource for free, expired-copyright books online is Project Gutenberg, offering more than 33,000 e-books.



Many colleges and universities now require students to have a laptop computer for classes, and a computer is certainly a necessity for attending an online school. While there's little chance of getting a free computer for college, there are several options to get a discount:

  • Several computer companies, including Apple and Dell, offer discounts for college students. Inquire at their store or online.
  • Check to see if your college or university offers any discounts on computers through partnerships or corporate sponsorships with computer companies.
  • Be on the lookout for tax-free days throughout your state. These are days that some states hold once per year in which no retail sales taxes are charged. Buying a computer on these days can save hundreds of dollars, depending on what kind of computer you are interested in and your state's sales tax rate.
  • Start checking back-to-school sales as early as late July for discounts.Sites such as Craigslist and ebay are good resources for gently used or refurbished computers.


Paper, pens, and pencils, etc.

Standard supplies like paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, printer paper, notebooks, folders, planners, and other supplies are generally a must-have for students attending college. You don't need to pay full price for these items if you consider these options:

  • If you can demonstrate financial need, check with your local office supply store about discounts on supplies purchased in bulk.
  • Check advertisements for back-to-school sales beginning in early July.
  • Gather a group of friends and pool your resources to buy supplies in bulk and at a discount from stores such as Sam's Club and Costco.


Dorm supplies

Checking back-to-school sales will also go a long way in helping to find supplies to organize and decorate your dorm room. Also keep in mind second hand stores and Goodwill for gently used furniture, posters, lamps, and other items. But also be aware that the best way to save on dorm supplies is to know what you really need and what you don't. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Get the measurements of your dorm. Call the residential office of your school, or check online. If you know how much room you will have for your things, you can avoid buying items that won't fit.
  • Check with your roommate. If she's bringing a microwave, you don't need to bring one (make sure you are even allowed to have one). The same goes for televisions, stereos, futons, and that best-selling Lady Gaga poster. Avoid duplicating efforts and save some cash.
  • Don't bring anything you're not allowed to have. These items generally include fire hazards like hot plates, candles, incense, and certain types of lamps.
  • Don't buy unnecessary items: You might want your own television, but chances are the student lounge in your dorm has one for everyone to use. You also will likely have access to vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, garbage and recycling bins, brooms, etc. Check with your residential life office to find out what is provided for communal use before you invest in your own.


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