Four things cash-strapped students think they need (but don’t) for college:

• Computer: don’t misunderstand. Having a computer of your own is definitely convenient. But if it’s not an option, that doesn’t mean your dreams of a college degree are threatened. In actuality, there are computers for use – for free – almost everywhere you look on campuses. Your library will almost definitely have a bank of computers for students to access. Many study areas in specific departments also maintain a computer lab. And, depending on your location, some cities have Internet cafes where you can log in and pay a small fee for several hours worth of use. And all of the above options allow printing for very reasonable rates when necessary.
• Car: No doubt about it … a car can be a status symbol, and starting your new life at university seems to call out for such a purchase. But, as you well know, cars are expensive to purchase and maintain. Universities are cities within themselves … almost every sizable school has its own transportation system of buses running regular routes on a timely schedule. In fact, to assist their student populations, many university bus routes travel off-campus to popular student locations, where grocery stores, Laundromats and other such necessities are located.
• a new wardrobe: starting life as a college student often screams for a new beginning, and new clothing or an entirely new style can help to complete that feeling. However, this is unwise and can be a complete waste of money. Unless you’re looking for professional clothes to accompany a job you’ve acquired, remember that college, unlike high school, has no dress code, and while some students dress up daily, most do not. In fact, today’s students tend to wear the equivalent of workout clothes to class – baggy shirts, nylon shorts and the like. So don’t feel pressured to going into debt over clothing. Chances are you haven’t even settled on your own personal style yet.
• A meal plan: many universities try to sell you on the benefits of buying a meal plan that will cover either a semester or an entire year or meals at any of the dining halls at school. While these aren’t always a bad idea, they aren’t always as economic as they seem. Unless you are an exceptionally scheduled individual who always eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you always plan to eat on campus, these can easily be wasteful ways to spend your money. Also, most campuses have inexpensive, fun eateries just off-campus, where you can stretch your dollar even further.

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