12 Things College Students Don’t Need

Of course, not all students’ needs are the same — students in medical studies, for example, may not require might need a powerful computer while students engineering and computer science may.

But, generally speaking, here are 12 expenses campus life doesn’t absolutely require:

12 Things College Students Don’t Need


1. New textbooks

Never ever ever buy a new textbook from the box store.

While the convenience may be tempting you honestly should never buy from you school bookstore. There are hundreds of textbook sites online now, and even programs that will find you the cheap priced textbook and the place to buy it.

free textbook tool

Disclaimer: Bright Futura receives a kick back for all books purchased using this tool. Help support Bright Futura by purchasing using our free textbook tool

You can also see if there is a free downloadable e-book version college ebooks

Advantages to getting an E-Book


1. Some things don’t get better with age.

Paper textbooks are expensive to produce and expensive for schools to buy.  And as books are passed along from one student to the next, they get more highlighted, dog-eared, tattered, and worn.

2. Heavy backpacks. Weighed-down students.

It’s no secret that paper textbooks are heavy. But what you may not know is that backpack weight is an increasing problem among kids. Studies show that heavy backpacks can lead to both chronic back pain and poor posture — and many kids are carrying a quarter of their body weight in textbooks. -Apple


If online textbook shopping isn’t your thing or the book can’t be found see if your university has an old edition.

More and more universities are offering textbook rental programs to help students avoid paying unfathomable new-book prices. Check to see whether your university offers a rental program, which is most often available for the school’s core-curriculum and prerequisite classes.

Ask a friend to go halves on it. Often times the books you are looking for have already been purchased by a friend or at least need to be. If your friend is no longer taking the class ask if you can buy it from him/her. Or if you and your friend are both taking the class split the cost and study together! Knowledge is power.

university book store


2. A Top of the Line Laptop or Desktop Computer.

This is dependent on your preference but the reality is that an inexpensive laptop or desktop should do the trick. In fact I didn’t even have a laptop for the first 2 years of college. I survived…barley. I would note however that while netbooks are cheap, their small keyboards and slow processing speed really suck.


3. A Printer.

office space printer

You have two options, you can skip the printer all together and just print from the school labs which will save you money on the printer and the ink or you can g a cheap/free printer on $50 for a printer, $30 a pop for replacement ink and $9 per pack of paper.

If you decided against buying a printer: For about $10, you can buy a flash drive instead, save your 20-page term paper on it and print the paper in the campus computer lab, which btw you’re already be paying for in tuition!

  • Flash drive
  • Send yourself files via gmail
  • Use Dropbox
  • Use Google Drive

Take Notes: Some schools include a technology fee in room-and-board costs — $100 per semester in some cases.


4.  A Pricey Smart-Phone Plan

While I personally have a smart phone and would kill anyone who tried to take it from me, they aren’t a requirement for college. Especially if you can’t afford/need it.

Fortunately, there are less-expensive, no-contract alternatives. Consider Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk Plan, which uses Sprint’s Nationwide Network. Plans start at $35 a month, for which you get unlimited Web, data, messaging and e-mail and 300 Anytime minutes. Simply buy a phone, select a plan at, activate it on the Web site and manage your account online.


5. Cable TV

I personally don’t understand having cable tv at any point in life. Their are hundreds of things to watch and do on the internet and real life. However, if you’re a huge tv buff I’d suggest you

1. Cut back, watching TV isn’t a good look!

2. Cut this additional expense by accessing a wide variety of current entertainment and news online.

You can stream programs from your computer or a Web-enabled device, such as an Xbox 360 gaming console, a Playstation 3, a Wii or a TiVo:

  • TV Shows: and, for example, let you download TV shows free. You can also catch recent episodes of your favorite shows at the networks’ own sites. now offers Hulu Plus, which for $8 a month gives you access to more than 1,000 seasons of current and classic TV shows, hundreds of movies (including films from the Criterion Collection) and limited commercial introduction in 720p high definition. College students can get a one-month free trial if they sign up with their .edu e-mail address. Movies.
  • Movies: Netflix offers for $8 a month unlimited TV episodes and movies streaming online through a Web-enabled device.
  • Sports: WatchESPN (formerly streams live broadcasts of professional sports, such as professional baseball, basketball, golf, soccer and tennis, and of course college basketball and football. You can stream WatchESPN content to an Xbox 360, but you must have an Xbox Live Gold membership, which is $10 a month, or $60 a year (same goes for streaming Netflix content with the Xbox 360).


6. A Car

things not to bring to college

In a nine-month academic year, according to AAA, the average small sedan would rack up about $3,000 in expenses, including costs for gas, standard maintenance and insurance. Parking permits and any tickets or breakdowns would add even more to the bill. Keeping the car parked at home could lower insurance premiums, too.


7. A Credit Card

college debt meme

The average freshman who has a credit card has nearly $700 in card debt, according to a recent study by Sallie Mae. To curb the frivolity of first-year credit card spending, Uncle Sam is now enforcing stricter credit card rules. Anyone younger than 21 is required to prove his or her ability to repay any debts or have a parent (or someone else 21 or older) co-sign the card application.

Help your student stay in the black by withholding your signature until he has a long track record of fiscal responsibility. A debit card is a good way to get started.


8. High bank fees

Open an account at a bank that is close to campus and has nationwide coverage.

Don’t use an account with the hometown bank at college. Otherwise you could spend up to $5 when withdrawing money from an out-of-network ATM.

Consider opening an online checking account with a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees or that refunds ATM surcharges by other banks.

Be sure to read the fine print: Some of these banks do not refund ATM fees beyond a certain amount, and some require the account holder to maintain a minimum account balance every month.

Open an account with a credit union that belongs to a surcharge-free network. Click here to locate one.


9. Overdraft protection

You now have the option when you open an account to opt out of overdraft protection. That means the bank either will not permit you to withdraw funds if your balance is too low or will ask whether you want to pay a $35 fee and proceed with the withdrawal. This is not a one-time decision; you can switch your preference if you decide you want the bank to cover overdrafts. Checks and recurring payments that cause you to overdraw the account are not covered even if you opt out, so you can still incur hefty overdraft fees.


10. A Big Meal Plan

college parents meme

Often, the money you spend on a meal plan does not roll over from year to year — if you don’t use the money, you lose it. Best to start low and see how much you eat. Many colleges give you the opportunity to replenish meal-plan funds midyear. You could also supplement your meal plan with gift cards to the local grocery (or pizza joint). Or you can buy gift cards at


11. Campus health insurance

If you have family health coverage, your child may still be covered under that plan when she goes to college. If your plan does not cover out-of-network costs, a campus health-insurance plan may be a more cost-effective option. Be careful, though: Some college policies have low coverage maximums, which could leave you with thousands of dollars in uninsured expenses.


12. Private loans

The hefty price tag on higher education makes it hard to avoid student loans, so steer clear of private student loans.

They usually carry variable rates (as opposed to the fixed rates of federal loans), have fewer repayment options and allow students to rack up high balances. (See Be Wary of Private Student Loans.)



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Maximillian Garland | Bright Futura Columnist

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50 Comments on “12 Things College Students Don’t Need

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