7 On Your Side

7 On Your Side's suggestions for cutting college costs

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to school shopping is big business and it could cost you big bucks, but not if you're armed with good information. 7 On Your Side has some ways parents might be able to cut some corners and save.

According to the National Retail Federation, this year's back-to-college spending will top $72.5 billion with each student spending on average more than $800 on clothing, electronics and dorm furnishings.

"We just walked up and down the aisles of Target for like three hours and bought everything we could think of," said Sarah Ashley, a University of San Francisco student.

Mostly what you hear is what you need to buy for your college kid, but I have some ideas for things you don't need to buy.

Golden Venters is the director of student housing at the University of San Francisco. He suggested, "Definitely bring a laptop over a tablet for the sake of being able to print. Many tablets will not allow you to print these days. Also you just don't know what kind of functionality you're going to need in different academic environments."

A printer is the obvious next purchase after a computer, but a lot of colleges have printing labs where kids can send their work and you'll save money on ink.

"In most cases you can print around campus. Here we've got plenty of printers located both in the residences halls, in many of the buildings, in the library certainly," said Venters.

You might think buying textbooks is a non-negotiable expense of college, but you can now rent many books.

Ryan Down is heading off to U.C. Riverside in a few weeks. He's hoping to save money by buying electronic versions of books instead of hardcopies. He told us, "I think I'd rather go digital instead."

External hard drives are not essential either. There's plenty of free cloud storage out there for backing up data and the newest computers have sufficient space on them for a college kid.

Your child may be due for a new iPhone, but consider that the new Apple phones are generally introduced later in the fall so you probably want to hold off for the latest.

Ilise Faye is helping her son move into the dorms at the University of San Francisco

"His roommate is getting the microwave, we got the fridge," said Faye.

Some colleges don't allow students to have their own microwaves in dorm rooms because of the power availability. So, you might get to take that off your list too.

There are a few other items you might consider leaving off your list, like ironing boards for instance. College kids aren't likely to iron much, yet we saw several students arriving to USF's move in day dragging around ironing boards.

Many colleges have mini-fridges and microwaves standard in dorm rooms, so check before you buy those. Also, some campuses don't allow you to have certain appliances so you need to check ahead.

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