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Where to Buy School Supplies in 2024?

Written by Fiza Usman
Updated: June 12, 2024
12 min read
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Pathward®.

Whenever a new school year begins, I always find it pivotal to buy school supplies and replace any old school supplies that will aid my success in college. Aside from bigger purchases such as computers, calculators, tablets to name a few, I always ensure that I have access to everything I need to make my workload easier.

As you may already know, back-to-school season is both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many deals and stores selling products that it's difficult to know where to look. Either the things we need are sold out, too expensive, or not exactly critical to school life.

To help you wash away all those worries and make school savings much easier, I will prep you with everything you need and some suggestions on where to get it. Hopefully, this will help you plan ahead and start off your first day of classes on the right foot.

I will also add some tips on keeping a good budget and cost effective ways of purchasing these supplies. There is no one that understand how expensive all of these goods can be then another college student. So, join me on this journey to figure out how to save money and go shopping.

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What School Supplies Do I Need?

Every student's journey is going to look incredibly different. There are so many diverse programs of study that it would make sense if not everyone required tools were the exact same. This article will broadly share commonly used goods shared amongst students from various backgrounds.


Amongst all the essentials you take away in this article, please let it be this one. Believe it or not, you will still need notebooks, pens, pencils, and other paper during class. Although most students typically rely on laptops and tablets to take notes, some professors will create technology-free classrooms. This means that they won't allow most technological supplies on a day-to-day basis.

Plus, while laptops are faster to take notes on, students are scientifically proven to retain more information when it is manually written down. Regardless of whether it's during a lecture or your personal time, I strongly encourage you to keep these simple stationary tools handy.

They can also be a lot easier to complete homework on, especially for those that are more STEM-based. Make sure to shop for the basics that have probably stayed with you for several years. At the same time, there is certainly no need to go overboard with it.

Figure out which classes would require them most and go from there. It is just a great place to store your ideas, notes, or homework which is why simple will do just fine. You can either get multiple or 1 multi subject notebook - whatever you prefer.


With social life and academics, there are several different obligations you will need to make time for in college. It can honestly be difficult to remember every single appointment you need to attend or when certain assignments are due. As someone who completely books out their schedule, keeping a planner makes it easier to figure out when I am free or need to get all my class assignments figured out.

school supplies


While technology is critical to staying connected with those around us, it's also among the most effective supplies you could get for school. As technological advancements continue to evolve, the reliance on their tools is increasingly becoming higher. In higher education, most schools shift to having class materials listed on an online portal such as Canvas.

In order to access these assignments and meet deadlines, you might want to look into laptops and tablets. They provide many benefits and can be used in many different ways, all of which only enrich your learning experience further.


If you are pursuing any STEM-related major or minor in college, you will most probably be dealing with a lot of mathematical concepts. Unless you have a graphing calculator from high school, it might be worthwhile to invest in one for college. They can be a little expensive, but because of the difficulty of classes you will be taking in higher education, it is almost a must.


Most courses will assign weekly assignments in the form of reading modules in the textbook. Instead of buying them ahead of time, wait until you start the semester and then go into your college or university bookstore to rent them. Sometimes, it is cheaper to get these items directly from your school.

If you are attending college away from home, and are moving into a dorm or apartment near campus you might need a little bit more school necessities to facilitate your learning. Your place of residence will set the tone of the semester, as it can either support or complicate your studying.

Typically, most students will be relying on their room to achieve stress and comfort when studying. If it's an uncomfortable place to be, chances are you won't be able to get a lot of your work done. To ensure this doesn't happen, here are a few things you might want to look into for your dorm room in regard to schoolwork.

  • Organizers
  • Desk and chair (if not provided by the school)
  • Noise-canceling headphones if you have any roommates (optional)
  • Monitor (optional)
  • Chargers
  • Lamp for nighttime study sessions

These are little necessities that have made my life much easier in college. Having a space designated for my success has allowed me to thrive and be on top of all of my obligations from the comfort of my own home. These are just merely a few recommendations on the school-oriented side, but for other non-academic dorm necessities, check out our college dorm guide.

Best Places to Buy School Supplies

A lot of brands will have sales sometime during the months of August and September - the peak of back-to-school shopping. After conducting a lot of trial and error, I have been able to figure out which places to avoid and which are my go-tos.

I know everybody has a different preference, but there is just something comforting about shopping at these places. Also, they can be pretty cost-effective, so I don't have to worry too much about breaking my bank account to get the items that I need.

These are just a handful of my favorite locations that I like to go to, and it is completely okay if it's entirely different from your own. At the very least, these may be some stores to consider when you urgently need to purchase something.

Best Buy

As stated earlier, technology is a huge component in most higher education. Teachers make it so that the online portal showcases every grade and submission, so there is no reliance on tangible paperwork. Considering that a lot of the assignments in college will be essays, you won't be expected to hand write 3-4 pages double-spaced.

Instead, a laptop will be a handy tool for keeping all of your school assignments organized. Best Buy typically has a lot of promotions and discounts on the latest technological models. Whether that even be headphones or a new speaker, Best Buy has access to pretty much everything you need.

It's a one-stop shop for all electronic goods, and I have found that they have some deals on really expensive products. I remember I bought a pair of AirPods from here rather than the Apple store directly because it was at least $50-$100 cheaper.


When it comes to dorm essentials like organizers or even stationary goods, Target is my absolute favorite. It has everything that I need and often promotes a student discount for college students at the end of summer.

Since a lot of the clientele is college students, Target has an entire subsection of decor that is particularly cheap to satisfy this group of people. For example, during my freshman year, I was able to get a full stack of plates and mugs for under $20. They did exactly what they were supposed to do and were easy to throw out once I was done with the school year.

The store has basically everything you need, from bedding to shower necessities to basic school supplies. You should be able to complete the majority of your list within one stop at Target, but make sure to start planning early, as so many people will be looking to buy these supplies simultaneously.



As you will come to know, every college is vastly different from the others. While some dorms come furnished, other schools might require you to invest in your own desk, chair, mattress, or any other furniture in similar vain.

IKEA is the best place to get your furniture for whatever your living condition is. The quality is really good while also being relatively affordable. Shipping the product is also pretty quick for every purchase I have ever made. Similarly, assembling every product is also fairly easy and lasts for quite a while.


As someone who personally loves pencils and pens, I strongly recommend checking out Muji for their cool stationery collection. They have really simple but nice pencil pouches and stationary tools. Their pens are one of my personal favorites to take notes in, which is why I always like to recommend them to others. Not only do they have various different colors, but they offer three separate ballpoint thicknesses, so you can go for the one that aligns with your writing style.


As the semester treads on, it becomes harder and harder to dedicate ample time out of your day towards running errands to replenish these supplies. Avoid the hassle of going to the store in the midst of moving in, and just order it on Amazon.

The platform is so convenient and has everything I need for a relatively good price. Students also get amazon prime at no charge for 6 whole months, making it even easier getting the products you need within an urgent time frame.


As students move out every year, you might have many students selling items that are in good quality such as furniture or textbooks. Oftentimes, it is typically cheaper to buy from them than getting it brand new from the company directly. It is always great to reach out and ask whether or not anybody in the graduating class is looking to sell their stuff.

How Should I Finance School Supplies?

You may have already figured out that the cost of attending school is not cheap. Your course syllabus might include additional items that weren't featured in the article due to your major or extracurricular activities. I understand how frustrating it can be to pay for these school supplies out of pocket with no additional benefit.

As draining as it can be, I actually have some good news! There are a couple of alternative avenues for you to fund these purchases that can actually benefit you in the long run. Spending money doesn't have to be solely an unfortunate thing. What if you could flip the script and be rewarded for using your card to buy necessary goods for school?

bold visa debit card

The Bold Visa® Debit Card is a platform committed to helping students avoid enormous amounts of student debt by giving back opportunities to raise funds for school. Students have had access to a diverse array of scholarships that vary in criteria, aid amount, and requirements.

To extend past that and give students even more autonomy over their future, created its own student debit card. I know a lot of students aren't compensated for any of the purchases they are almost forced to make in order to be successful in school, like required textbooks.

A student debit card is slightly different from any other regular bank card. Here, you can actually get rewards* that help you pay for school and these necessities, so you aren't spending tons of your own money to afford it.

In fact, you get 1 Bold Point for each $2 spent in any category. Exchange your Bold Points for either student loan payments or cashback.* Imagine a world where you can lower the cost elsewhere by spending money on obliging purchases.

Furthermore, it is easy to have a dashboard with all your scholarships and debit card earnings in one spot. You can easily set up direct deposit for your paychecks and transfer money in and out of your account.

Plus, to use myself as an example, I currently have 965 bold points that I have acquired sporadically within my time as a user. With the Bold Debit Card, I can get $9.65 cashback or $14.48 in student loan payments.

Unlike other debit cards, this one truly works for you - no fees and no surprises. Imagine everything you wish a debit card had, and consider it a dream come true, at least for me.

Apply for the Bold Debit Card today! Scholarships

Unlike other forms of financial aid, the best thing about scholarships on is that they do not need to be paid back upon graduation. In other terms, it is essentially gift aid as students can use it to fund their collegiate experience without worrying about entering crippling debt.

While every scholarship is different, some rewards may be used to fund school supplies or rent. If affording a pricier item is something you struggle with, consider applying for a few scholarships at to make it easier.

Your education is one of the most important things, and we wanna make sure that you are set up for success. There is always an opportunity at for you, so feel free to apply to as many scholarships as you qualify for.

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Student Discounts and Deals

Take advantage of student discounts and special deals offered by retailers. Many stores offer discounts for students on school supplies, so be sure to inquire about these discounts and compare prices to get the best deals.

Part-Time Job

Consider taking on a part-time job to earn extra income, specifically for school expenses. This could be a temporary job during the summer or evenings and weekends during the school year. Use the earnings from this job to finance your school supplies.


Utilizing work-study to cover the costs of school supplies is an effective strategy for financially managing educational expenses. Upon receiving a work-study award as part of their financial aid package, you should explore available part-time job opportunities on or near campus. 

These positions, tailored for work-study participants, offer flexible hours to accommodate students' academic schedules. By picking up shifts at school, you can allocate your work-study earnings toward purchasing essential supplies such as textbooks, stationery, and technological tools. Students can effectively offset these expenses.

buying school supplies

Frequently Asked Questions About School Supplies

How much should I budget for school supplies?

The cost of school supplies can vary depending on the level of education and specific requirements of each student. It's advisable to budget a reasonable amount for supplies each semester or academic year. It definitely shouldn't be in the thousands range, but a good couple hundred could be a great start. Plus, after you buy something in your first year, you can use it many times thereafter.

Do I need to live in a dorm?

No! Many students commute to school if they live nearby or look into getting an apartment within a reasonable vicinity. It is completely up to your jurisdiction. It may be much more feasible to live at home or close by instead of on campus directly, so if that's what you would like to do - go for it.

How do I navigate the school campus?

I completely understand how daunting the first day at a whole new school can be. Do not worry because truly everybody has been there at some point. Any maps app should have a pretty easy guide to take you wherever you need to go, but if it's still confusing, do not feel discouraged from asking someone, whether it be faculty or another student.

Interested to learn more about student debit cards and college? Access our Scholarship Blog page to read some up-to-date information from me and other amazing writers on the team! Visa® Debit Card is a demand deposit account provided by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC. Visa Debit Card is issued by Pathward, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa U.S.A. Inc. All other trademarks and service marks belong to their respective owners. Register your Card for FDIC insurance eligibility and other protections.

*This product or service is independent of Pathward® and Visa and is neither endorsed nor sponsored by Pathward® or Visa.

†The features associated with the Bold Debit Card discussed in this blog post are provided by and are not affiliated with our Bank partners, Pathward®, or Visa.

Fiza Usman
Content Writer

About Fiza

Fiza is a dedicated writer and researcher with expertise in internships, scholarships, career opportunities, and financial aid. Her skills enable her to craft engaging and insightful content that guides students through the complex processes of applying for financial aid and pursuing career opportunities.

She graduated from Boston College, majoring in Applied Psychology and Human Development and Computer Science.


Fiza has experience in writing blog posts, SEO content, and creative storytelling. On her personal blog, she shares engaging narratives through personal anecdotes. Her international experiences have given her a global perspective, enabling her to connect with a diverse audience. Fiza is committed to making a meaningful impact through her writing, always considering the perspectives and experiences of others.

Since joining the team in 2022, Fiza has channeled her passion for guiding students through pivotal stages of their academic journeys. She understands the challenges associated with college life and is dedicated to helping students adjust to their degree programs and manage their finances. Motivated by her own experiences, Fiza is passionate about empowering students by providing guidance and support that she wished she had during her undergraduate years.

Quote from Fiza

“To educate is to empower.”

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