Best buys on a student budget


Illustration by Kristine Delicana / Illustration Editor

Alik Ourfalian

Illustration by Kristine Delicana / Illustration Editor
Illustration by Kristine Delicana / Illustration Editor


The fall semester is here, which means back to school shopping is in full force as students prepare for the upcoming semester. For college students, shopping for supplies can get expensive, especially when they need to purchase electronics for school. The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates up to $48.4 billion spent by college students and their families in preparation for the new semester.

Students also have to keep in mind the cost of textbooks, which can be very expensive (ranging from a few dollars to several hundred dollars). For the 2013-2014 school year the average cost for books and supplies was $1,207 at public colleges and $1,253 at private colleges, according to the College Board.

The following is a checklist of basic school supplies every student should have:

  • Laptop – whether it’s to take notes in class, complete assignments at home or access Moodle, a laptop is a must-have for college students.
  • iPad – now that CSUN has teamed up with Apple to offer myCSUNtablet classes, some classes require students to have an iPad. For classes that don’t require an iPad, any tablet can be useful to take notes in class.
  • Planner – when juggling several classes along with a busy non-academic schedule, a planner can help students organize assignment due dates and other events. Most smartphones have a built-in planner or calendar applications that can help with this organization, as well.

Other supplies: pens, pencils, highlighters, notebooks and textbooks.

Perhaps a less conventional but increasingly popular method for purchasing your back-to-school items is online shopping. Several stores are offering  back-to-school deals to help students save money as they prepare for the school year.

  • The Matador Bookstore at CSUN offers rentals on textbooks to save students money. The bookstore is also offering iPads at $30 off the regular price through Sept. 27. Students can also set up payment plans to pay for iPads in one or two installments.
  • The Apple Store is currently offering a $100 Apple Store Gift Card when students buy a Mac computer for college and a $50 gift card with the purchase of an iPad or iPhone. This offer is available through Sept. 9. In addition to the gift cards, Apple offers education pricing of up to $200 off Mac computers and $30 off iPads.
  • Target has come up with a new way of back-to-school shopping: a college registry. The registry includes things like furniture, personal care items, school supplies and electronics. Family and friends can help students by purchasing items they need on their registry. “I always shop at Target,” said Tamar Mouchmouchian, senior English major. “The most expensive thing I get is probably the Five Star five-subject notebook.” Mouchmouchian says her back-to-school must-haves are a pencil case with pens, pencils, highlighters and Post-its.
  • Amazon has daily deals on back-to-school items. The web store also offers students a free Amazon Prime account for six months, which includes free two-day shipping, deals and promotions exclusively for students and $10 credit for referring a friend. Amazon also offers textbook rentals for students. Anthony Kim, a junior TV Production major has been doing his back-to-school shopping on Amazon. “The cheapest but most useful thing probably has to be notebooks,” he says. “The most expensive useful thing is a printer.”

With these back-to-school deals, transitioning into the new semester is made a little easier and more affordable for money conscious students.