Save Money on College Supplies

Save Money on College Supplies

Use these tips to save money as you prepare for your first semester of college.


Buy only what you really need.

  • If you live in a residence hall, you may find you don’t need your own vacuum or printer.
  • Before you buy a lot of new clothes, consider what you’ll really wear on a daily basis. You probably won’t want to dress up for those 8 a.m. lectures.
  • Do you really need a new matching bed set with a duvet cover? You may find your old bedding is more comfortable.
  • Check social media sites and ask professors about recommended books — maybe you’ll find you don’t really need them all.
  • If you’re not sure about a specific purchase, wait a couple of weeks after you move in — by then you’ll probably have a better idea of whether you’ll have room for (or even still want) a sofa.

See what you already have at home.

  • It may be fun to get all new school supplies, but you might have enough basic items like notebooks, pens, folders, scissors, and even a bag or backpack, to get you through a semester.
  • Check for items like extra storage bins, hangers and mirrors at home instead of buying new.

Rent, share, borrow and swap.

  • Your college or an affiliated organization may offer dorm size refrigerators and other large-ticket items for rent.
  • Check for your textbooks on rental sites if you don’t think you’ll have a reason to use it again once the class is over.
  • See if your roommate or other students are willing to share a textbook if you’re in the same class.
  • If you have older relatives or neighbors who are moving off campus, they may be willing to lend you some furniture or other items for a year or two.
  • Check the college library for required textbooks. (If only limited copies are available, you may need to plan ahead to have one on hand just before exams.)
  • Some sites even let you borrow or rent e-books and audiobooks, and electronic versions of text books are becoming more available.

Buy used.

  • Hit garage sales and thrift shops to save the most money on items like furniture, bedding and rugs. Remember to check social media sites and pages dedicated to swaps and sales, especially those used by students at your college.
  • Consider refurbished and certified electronics and laptops.
  • Used textbooks are available at several online sites as well as campus bookstores.

Use discounts.

  • Your student ID will often get you a discount for electronics, software, books and services like oil changes and salon services. Be sure to ask if it’s not advertised.
  • Your parents may belong to an association that offers discounts, such as AAA and other savings clubs.
  • Follow retailers on social media and sign up for emails and electronic coupons. (Be careful about opening new store-associated credit cards, though!)

Watch for deals.

  • School supplies are often cheapest and most available just before school starts. Stock up now so you don’t pay more later.
  • If you don’t need it right away, wait for popular items, like dorm-size rugs and extra-long sheets, to go on sale shortly after move-in is over.
  • Check websites that compare prices (including shipping costs) for you.
  • Take advantage of the annual tax holiday on school supplies.

See additional tips on saving money in college.

What should you do with all the money you saved? See how making an interest payment on your student loans while you’re in school can save you even more in the long run.

By: Iowa Student Loan

What Is the FSA ID?

Students headed to college and borrowers repaying federal student loans are familiar with the PIN, or personal identification number, that was needed to access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the U.S. Department of Education’s websites.

FSAIDTo better protect consumers’ privacy and make access easier, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office of the U.S. Department of Education has now transitioned to a secure login system called FSA ID. Here are the top questions and answers for the FSA ID.

Q: Do I need an FSA ID?

A: If you have or plan to take out federal student loans, or you are the parent of a dependent student who will have federal student loans, yes, you will need an FSA ID. You will use it to complete, update and sign the FAFSA; complete required entrance and exit counseling; sign for federal student loans; view information about your federal student loans and other repayment activities.

Q: Which sites do I access with the FSA ID?

A: You will need an FSA ID to access the following FSA and Department websites:

  • to complete, update and sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • to learn about and apply for financial aid and to manage federal student loans
  • to view information about all your federal student loans
  • to complete entrance and exit counseling, sign Master Promissory Notes (MPNs), estimate payment amounts and complete agreements and counseling for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) program
  • to apply for and manage the TEACH Grant

Q: How do I set up the FSA ID?

A: Go to to learn more about the FSA ID and create yours. You will need to supply a valid email, a unique username and password; enter personal information and agree to the terms and conditions. You have the option to verify your email address, which will let you retrieve your username or reset your password without answering challenge questions.

The entire process only takes a few minutes, and you’ll be able to use your FSA ID to access the above sites within one to three days.

Q: Can I still use my Federal Student Aid PIN?

A: No. But you can link your Federal Student Aid PIN to your FSA ID to gain immediate access to the sites above while your FSA ID information is verified.

Q: What if I don’t remember my Federal Student Aid PIN or don’t have one?

A: You don’t need a Federal Student Aid PIN to create an FSA ID.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Financial Aid Myths

Have you heard that applying for financial aid isn’t worth it because your parents earn too much or because it takes too long to complete? Don’t be tempted by these common myths to skip completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You could be passing up free money. And that’s the last thing you want to do when it comes to paying for college.


Financial Aid Myth — You won’t receive financial aid because of how much money your parents earn.

Income is not the only determining factor when it comes to whether or not you’re eligible for federal student aid. And there is no income level that automatically disqualifies you for aid. Taking the time to complete the FAFSA is the only way to qualify for federal student aid and you won’t know if you qualify until you do that step, so completing the FAFSA every year you are in school is important.

Also, did you know that the FAFSA is used for more than just federal financial aid? State and school aid is also awarded based on your FAFSA results. If you don’t complete the FAFSA, you could also be missing out on these other sources of financial aid.

Financial Aid Myth — The FAFSA is difficult to complete.

The FAFSA has changed a lot since it was first introduced, and the application is revised often to make the process smoother. The online process uses logic to limit questions to ones that are relevant and completing it online instead of filling out a paper application lessens the chance for mistakes. According to the federal government, completing the FAFSA now takes less than 21 minutes on average. That’s not too bad if the outcome is grants, scholarships and other funds to help lower your college expenses, is it?

Financial Aid Myth — You need to have your taxes filed before starting the FAFSA.

While you will eventually need final annual tax information for your FAFSA, you can start and even submit it with estimated information. It’s really important not to wait until your or your family’s taxes are filed to submit your FAFSA, especially if your college or university’s priority deadline is well before April 15. Financial aid is distributed first to those students who file their FAFSA by the school’s deadline, so if you miss that by waiting until you file your taxes, you may miss out on important opportunities.

If your taxes won’t be filed until closer to the tax deadline, you can estimate your information using last year’s tax return. Then once your taxes for this year are completed, you can update that information online. Remember, there is no penalty for using estimated information.

Financial Aid Myth — You only need to complete the FAFSA once.

If you complete the FAFSA before starting college, you may think you don’t need to file it ever again. But you should file the FAFSA every year as soon after Jan. 1 as possible if you intend to enroll in classes during the next academic year. This is especially important if your family’s circumstances change because you may be eligible for new or more aid next year. Even if there are no major changes to your family, though, other factors such as how financial need is calculated may mean you are eligible for different options next year. And, once you complete the FAFSA the first time, it will take even less time to complete the following years.

Financial Aid Myth — Your parents are not supporting you financially in college so you don’t have to include their information on the FAFSA.

Unfortunately you may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes, even if you are paying for all your college expenses yourself. You will need to answer questions in the FAFSA to determine if you are considered a dependent student or an independent student. If you are considered a dependent student, you will need to report your parents’ information on the FAFSA. If you are unsure how what type of student you are, contact your college or university’s financial aid office for assistance.

By: Iowa Student Loan

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