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Back-to-school guide

A guide to help students cut costs on textbooks, computers and more

College is expensive, requiring many students to take out significant loans to afford an education. On top of that, students have to deal with the additional costs of textbooks, computers and other electronics. Some students even have to deal with unfair financial practices. Below are three tips and resources to reduce costs, protect students and help make college more affordable.

Affordable textbooks

Textbook costs have increased by more than one thousand percent over the last 30 years because only a handful of publishers control the marketplace. With fewer options available to students, companies can increase costs by using access codes — which hide homework behind a paywall — and publishing new editions frequently. As a result, many colleges recommend that students budget well over one-thousand dollars a year for books and other class materials, which hits students at community colleges and low-income students particularly hard. Check out the video below for some cost saving tips, or go to this link to learn more.

Buy refurbished electronics

Students can find great deals on the electronics for school by buying used, or refurbished. Often these items are like-new, but available for a sizable discount. Buying used is also a greener choice. Giving a new lease on electronics keeps their toxic waste out of the landfill and means fewer new products need to be manufactured. Below are some quick tips on how to get a good deal on refurbished back-to-school electronics. Also check out our full refurbished buying guide.

Beware of campus debit cards

College students across the U.S. are at risk of being taken advantage of by banks that pay colleges to market checking accounts directly to students. These campus debit card accounts can come with high and unexpected fees that put college students, many of whom are managing their own finances for the first time, at risk.

Campus debit cards are often used to disburse financial aid refunds when students have funds left over after paying tuition and fees. While students always have the option to receive these refunds in their own pre-existing checking accounts, some banks partner with schools to offer students new checking accounts to receive these funds. Under some agreements, banks are permitted to market their campus debit cards aggressively to the entire student body. Make sure to research terms and fees associated with any debit card offered by the college or university. Learn more about the campus debit trap.

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