How College Students Can Get FREE School Supplies

Like you all know, I am a mother to 8 beautiful, wonderful children. This year, two of my awesome kids are going off to college. Before this, I never realized just how expensive it is for a child to prepare for college! My kids have been saving and working for years to prepare for this, yet there is no way one can be 100% prepared for the rising expenses of college.

Often times we think that all we need to pay is the rent, the grocery bill, and the tuition. All of those things need to be paid, yet there is so much more. Textbooks, school supplies, lab supplies, tutoring fees, parking passes, health insurance, gas, cell phone plan, and the list goes ON and ON.

Since your child is already paying to go to school, you might as well find a way for them to get FREE or CHEAP school supplies. Nothing frustrates me more than when a student is in college, they pay hundreds of dollars for a class and then they have to buy a $300 textbook! It is outrageous.

Well, since I have spent the past few months prepping my kids for college, I have come across SO many ways to get kids FREE school supplies for when they head back to college. I even have some other options that will help you get cheap supplies too!

How College Students Can Get CHEAP School Supplies

I decided to save the best for last and start out with how to get cheap school supplies. Here are my top 7 ways to get the cheapest deals around! It is so important that your children learn this! I have yet to meet a college student who was rollin’ in the dough! Most of them are barely getting by! And that is okay! During that time of their life, they need to put full time, high paying employment on the back burner and focus on an education that will eventually give them that job where they are making enough money to enjoy life.

As much as we all wish we could have the newest textbook, calculator, laptop, or tablet, sometimes we need to go the cheaper route. That does not mean that they can only buy trash! That means your kids need to learn how to search out the best deal and find the products that are within their price range.

These are the resources my kids have used to prepare for college the frugal way:


As you all know, I love Amazon! There are SOOO many back to school deals! You can find them by searching Amazon OR by just going to our deals section. Most of our daily deals come from Amazon. We post daily showcasing the best deals out there. Amazon almost always has the best prices! You can shop things out and find what price/quantity/version works for you!

Another HUGE way to save is by signing up for Amazon Prime Student. You can get a free 6 month trial and then after that, you get 50% off an annual prime membership for 4 years or until you graduate!! All you need is an .edu email to sign up. You get all the benefits of Amazon Prime (such as free 2 day shipping, prime video, prime music, prime photo and more) PLUS, you get special student deals and discounts! It is 110% worth it! Students will be ordering supplies, textbooks, tech equipment and SO much more throughout the year and just the free shipping will be worth it! Not to mention all the other perks you get with it.


Facebook is SUCH a great way for college students to save. The moment your child decides where they are going to attend school, have them search Facebook for groups specific to that campus! Good examples are housing pages, textbook re-sell pages, classifieds, and ISO pages! Get them in those communities so they can have ample resources. Before heading to the bookstore and buying brand new textbooks, check out the Facebook page where students are re-selling text books! They can get it for half the price!

Also, when it comes to furnishing an apartment, there is no need to buy everything BRAND NEW. Get on Facebook marketplace or your college’s classifieds group and you can furnish everything for so cheap. People only stay in a college town for a short amount of time so by the time they move out, all their furnishings are still LIKE NEW! Be sure to check out Facebook because you will be amazed at what you find.

Fabulessly Frugal

Not to toot our own horn, but we post the best deals daily and do the work so you don’t have to! The reason why I can say that is because my own kids have been buying things off FF because the deals are AMAZING. You can get anything from pens and pencils to bedding to TVs and electronics at such a good price. My daughter snagged her bedding, a FULL SET with a comforter, pillows, pillow shams, etc. for only $20 and it is so cute! Be sure to check out our Back to School deals daily because we are working hard to post daily the best deals that all of you are looking for.

Dollar Store

Your local Dollar Store is SUCH a great resource when looking for cheap school supplies. Each student will need calculators, notebooks, pens, pencils, post-its, markers, and the list goes on and on! Might as well buy these products for dirt cheap! At the dollar store, you can get everything you need for the year and not spend over $20! Now I realize you can’t get everything there, but you can check a huge portion of your list off for just a few dollars. Do not miss this chance to get cheap things! You’ll regret it. And let’s be honest, we all loose things so why spend a forchune on pens and pencils when you will just loose them! Buy the cheap ones so it is not as much as a loss once you misplace it 🙂

PLUS, you can shop at the Dollar Tree online!

Sams Club

Sam’s Club is one of my favorite places to shop for school supplies! You can get notebooks, backpacks, binders, paper, etc. all in one place for a super great price! Also, Sam’s Club does online auctions where you can bid on super low price items! Just go to their website to find the auctions page. I like to to go to the section that says “closing soon.” Find the ones that are about to close and place your minimum bid! You can get supplies for SO cheap! You’ll be amazed!

Also, for fast shopping in the store be sure to check out the Scan and Go app! Watch my video review showing you how to use it here!


We all know how eBay works, it is just an online auction! Well, have you ever thought about getting your most expensive school supplies on eBay? Maybe a laptop, television, printer, tablet, etc! It is ideal to not buy a used product, but if you find a good deal from a shop that has great ratings, why not? I have bought many electronics off eBay and have been nothing but pleased. Be sure to research it out though and check the seller’s ratings because there are many scams that exist out there!


I think out of all of these resources, I have used Walmart the most when it comes to preparing for BTS. They are know for having super low prices and awesome back to school deals. But, have you heard of their Savings Catcher app? All you have to do is buy your supplies at Walmart and at the end scan your receipt with the Savings Catcher app. They will research prices for those exact items in stores near you and if another store has it for cheaper, they will refund you the difference! Talk about savings without much effort!

For more info on how to save at Walmart, check out this post! 

Now, I am sure you have been plumped full of ideas on where and how to get cheap school supplies, so now I will share your favorite topic…

How to Get FREE School Supplies For College Students

Why pay for school supplies when you can get them for FREE?! I wish there was a way to get EVERYTHING you’ll ever need at college for free, but so far I have yet to discover it! But, I have found a few ways that you can get random odds and ends for free! All the things you get for free will add up and will end up saving you TONS of cash.

So, let’s get started shall we?? Here are my top 7 ways to get FREE school supplies.


Did you know that Craigslist has a free section? All you have to do is log on to your local Craigslist and go to the For Sale –> Free Section. After that, just look around and see what school supplies you can get for free! I have seen so many notebooks (UNUSED), Pens, math supplies, old textbooks, art supplies, and so much more! Normally they are not in 100% perfect condition, but they will do! This is an awesome way to pinch pennies. And to be honest, I am always amazed at the amount of AWESOME free things that end up on that site. You have to give it a try.


If you haven’t heard of Freecycle you are seriously missing out! Freecycle is an online community where there are over 5,000 groups which post free items! All you have to do is log on and enter your location so they can show you the groups near you. Then all you do is browse until you find what you are looking for! Once you find something that you want, you can get it for free! This non-profit just wants to promote reusing and recycling! So, get on and find the group in your city so you can see which things you can get for free! This could save so much money!

Salvation Army

Now this one is depending on the area that you live in. You will need to contact your local Salvation Army for more info, but the majority of Salvation Armies around the country have a Back to School event each year for families who are struggling getting school supplies. Big name companies like Walmart, Target, and many others often contribute to these events and donate new items for these families. What you will need to find out is 1) if your family qualifies to receive this help 2) if this branch of Salvation Army helps college students. A simple phone call or visit to your store is all it will take! This is an awesome opportunity for those of you who have no idea how to make ends meet!

The Salvation Army is not the only store who does BTS events like this! Check out your local newspaper or community Facebook page to learn more about other BTS events in your community.

School Library

This is something that I learned my freshman year of college that I wish I could have known earlier! Most college libraries have resources that are available for check out! For example, at my university we had a section where you could check out laptop computers. You had to bring them back in 2 hours, but could use them as if it were your own. You also could check out textbooks, DVDs, or use a computer in the lab that has resources like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Microsoft Office! All of those items are SUPER expensive! You could save thousands of dollars by just going to the library to study instead of having your own personal textbook. OR, if you can’t afford a laptop right now, you don’t need to freak out and wonder how you will get your homework done. There are plenty of free resources! Your first week at college during orientation, be sure to ask all of these questions!

Free Software (gimp)

There are so many software downloads that colleges/different classes try and require you to have! If you get all of them, it can really add up! Either you can go to your school library to use their resources OR you can find free software downloads that are available online. TIP: Research a program before downloading it! There are many scams and viruses out there so be sure to verify what you are trying to download is what you are looking for BEFORE downloading it. You could seriously harm your computer if you download something harmful, so take your time and do your research!

One that I recommend is GIMP. If you/your child has to take a graphic design course or will need some version of Photoshop, they can download GIMP, which is free, and will give them plenty of sophisticated tools to make beautiful creations.

Amazon Kindle App

This will save you TONS if you are worried about buying expensive, over priced textbooks. All you need to do is download the FREE Amazon Kindle App and you will be able to view thousands of textbooks for free! Like I’ve mentioned so many times in this post, textbooks are one of the most expensive parts of college. So why not download a free app and have access to all of your textbooks FOR FREE. I just love that word, FREE!

And if the textbook happens to not be available, you can rent it on Amazon for a super cheap price. Most of the time you will have access to a textbook for about 6 months (you can pay for more if needed), but since a semester only lasts a few months, this is a perfect option! But be sure to check to see if the free version is available before paying.

Online Groups

My final advice is to be sure to use all your resources. There are so many Google+, Facebook, Yahoo, etc. groups online that are full of free resources! Do your research and find all the resources available to you and your student. You will be amazed at the amazing deals/free things you can get just by doing a little research online.

Another awesome idea is to ask at Student Orientation what groups students are in! All college students will know because most of them are all pinching pennies and looking for deals. Open your mouth, ask around, and you will find all the deals that you need.

Take The Time

I know that it is so much easier just to go to one store, buy everything, and call it quits. BUT, you could be missing out on saving hundreds, MAYBE even thousands of dollars. Take the time to search out these deals. I do it every single day and it really it worth your time (AND MONEY!)

Now that you’ve heard what ideas have worked for me, how do you save money when finding your college kids back to school supplies?

I would love to get advice and feature the best ideas here at Fabulessly Frugal. I want all of you to have access to the best deals around!

So get out there, find the best deals, and get all ready for you or your student to head off to college! You can do it! Happy Back to School season!


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