Back to school is well underway, and some college students are on campus and ready to get on with the semester. As you send your college student off, it is tempting to provide him or her with everything necessary to live comfortably. Indeed, it’s easy to go overboard with what you buy for your college student.
Before you shell out for your student’s needs, consider these 5 items he or she won’t actually need this fall:
1. University Health Insurance
Many universities offer campus health plans. However, it’s important to really check the plan. At all of the schools my husband and I have attended, the campus health plans are more expensive than our own coverage. Besides, your student is probably covered under your family health insurance plan. Health care reform  requires that your student remain on your insurance until age 26, as long as certain conditions are met. Check to see what in-network providers are available in your student’s college town. Also, consider asking about basic services. Many campuses have clinics that are free for students to use for preventative and basic care.
2. Cable/Satellite TV
By now, many of us are aware of the options that make cable/satellite unnecessary. It’s possible to watch shows, sporting events, and movies through the Internet with the help of services like Netflix and Hulu. Many of these services work through game systems, so if your student takes a PS3 or Xbox 360, it’s possible to stream from the Internet to TV. There are plenty of low cost and free ways to use the Internet to access TV content, so paying for cable/satellite really isn’t necessary.
3. Expensive Phone Plan
There are plenty of ways to save on cell phone plans. One of those options is to get a prepaid cell phone  plan. These plans are even available for smart phones. Instead of paying $100 to $200 for phones with data plans, consider pay as you go options with unlimited talk, text, and data for between $45 and $60 a month. And you don’t get locked into a contract! You can even try to convince your student that a smart phone isn’t necessary. I’m still doing just fine with my non-smart phone.
4. Pricey Meal Plan
One way that I avoided paying a lot for a meal plan in college was to get the smallest meal plan, and then supplement with groceries. (It also helped that I worked in the cafeteria and received a free meal after my shift.) Your student can save by cooking for him or her self. Even in a non-cooking dorm, there are often ways around it. I had a microfridge. I could keep milk and fresh produce in the fridge section, and prepare simple meals in the microwave. This is a great way to help your student think creatively, and save money on those pricey meal plans. And, if your student ends up needing more money in the plan, you can usually add it.
Most students don’t need printers these days. Check to see if your student’s campus uses Blackboard or Canvas for assignments. In many cases, there is no need to print out homework; your student can just upload it to the system. And, if printing is needed, many universities allow students to print off their work in computer labs, or with dorm printers. Just get the laptop on the system, and send the file to the appropriate printer. Double check to see what page limits there are, or if there is some other fee.
What other things do you think college students can do without?
(Photo: CollegeDegrees360 )