How Much Will You Need to Spend on College Supplies?


To work out a budget for your time at college, you need to know how much you’re likely to spend on supplies. Whereas this depends on a variety of factors, including where you’ll be studying, your major, and where you purchase supplies, it is possible to make a reasonably accurate estimate.

What Supplies Will You Need?

Tuition accounts for around one-third of college-related costs, housing about 40 percent, and food about 15 percent. After this, your biggest expense is likely to be course materials. The supplies you’ll need include textbooks, lab books, notebooks, and stationery. Depending on what classes you take, you may also need things like a calculator, art supplies, and specialist software — you can find out what expenses you’ll incur by reading more about your class requirements. All this adds up to an average of about $800 per year.

However, costs do vary quite considerably for students taking different majors. Typically, though, the most expensive majors in terms of course materials are business, criminology, and psychology. In contrast, the least expensive majors are computer science, math, and music.

Other Expenses

Many college students already have a laptop when they start classes. If you don’t (or if your laptop lacks the capabilities you need for your classes), this will be another expense. You can purchase a basic laptop for a few hundred dollars, but if you need a particular model, you may need to spend up to a couple thousand dollars.

How to Reduce Costs

Whatever supplies you need, there are strategies you can use to reduce costs.

Buy Second Hand

Usually, there’s no need to buy new books. Since students who have completed a class often have no more use for their books, there tend to be many second-hand course materials available for purchase at the end of the semester. As well as buying from students at your college, you can find used books for sale online.

Rent Your Books

An alternative to purchasing books is to rent them. Just make sure you won’t need to refer to a book later and that you can keep it in good condition.

Use Your College Computer Lab

If you’re struggling to afford a laptop, software, or tech equipment, you may be able to find what you need at your college computer lab. Often, the equipment is available to use 24 hours a day.

Avoid Wasting Supplies

Prevent the need to purchase all new stationery and notebooks each year by keeping everything organized. If you need to move out of your housing at the end of the year, pack up your supplies to reuse them instead of throwing them out.

Pick Up Items from Free Bins

It’s common for colleges to set up free bins at the end of the year. Here, students can dispose of items like stationery and clothing that others may want.

You’ll also spend less if you live in off-campus housing rather than in a dorm. An alternative to Niagara College residence is Foundry Lofts. We have four- and five-bedroom suites available, both furnished and unfurnished. Book an in-person or virtual tour to check out the facilities.

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