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8 Costs to Cut When Sending Your Child to College

No matter if your child attends a public university or a private university, we all agree that tuition costs are high. One way to offset the cost of tuition is to avoid spending your money on items that aren’t necessary for your student’s college success.

1. An Unlimited Meal Plan

Considering the generally mediocre food quality and limited options, dining hall meals are pricey enough. Avoid immediately purchasing the most expensive meal plan by first waiting to see how much your son or daughter uses each week. If he or she ends up needing more dining hall points, adjust the plan accordingly.

2. New Textbooks

A new textbook — or even a used one — often costs $100 or more. Turn to sites like or for the best deals on required textbooks. It’s often better to use these sites than a nearby campus used bookstore (since it’s often the only one close to campus, they get away with higher used book prices).

3. Printer

Unless your student’s printer comes free with the purchase of a new MacBook (another purchase you shouldn’t necessarily let your kid coax you into), go for a $10 flash drive instead. Your son or daughter can save his final papers, projects and homework on it, plug it in to a campus computer, and print it using one of the lab’s printers.

4. Top-Notch Laptop

Since he or she will constantly be using a laptop, it’s bound to suffer some bumps and bruises throughout four college years or more. One powerful, portable and affordable option is the Asus K50IJ-BBZ5 laptop. Available at Best Buy for $530, it has a 15.6-inch screen, weighs 5.8 pounds, and has 4 gigabytes of memory and a 320GB hard drive.

5. Cable TV

With the sturdy, affordable laptop you likely will have bought, your student can watch as many episodes of his or her favorite show as he or she pleases. and let you download recent TV shows free. The movies offered on these sites have long since left theaters, so for another option you can try a Netflix DVD-rental subscription for as little as $5 per month. The subscription also includes a “play instantly” feature so you can stream a variety of movies on your computer.

6. High ATM fees

Open an account for your child at a bank that is close to campus so he or she can avoid fees each time he or she decides to withdraw cash. Withdrawing money from an out-of-network ATM once a week could add up to hundreds of dollars in avoidable fees each year.

7. Car

Annual parking fees, the occasional parking ticket and stringent campus parking zones can make having a car at school an expensive hassle. When your student isn’t walking to class, public transportation serves as an easy alternative for a downtown commute.

8. Overdraft Protection

Banks are now allowing customers to have the choice to opt out of overdraft protection fees. This means if your child tries to withdraw more money than their account holds, you don’t need to be stuck footing the fees. Warn your son or daughter that checks and recurring payments are not covered even if you choose to opt out, so you can still incur hefty overdraft fees.

If you are setting up a new account for your college-bound child check out the best rates and deals here before signing up for a new card.