What College Students Need For College

A Dose of College uses affiliate links, read full disclosure in our Privacy Policy.

This post is all about what college students need for college.

The struggle is real out here for college students.

Sadly, the student debt crisis isn’t helping the situation.

Find out what college students need for college, to help you minimize your spending and save money while you pursue your college degree.

Unfortunately, student debt is bubbling out of control.

According to the Federal Reserve, at the end of 2020, outstanding student loan debt was over $1.7 trillion.

Overall, the situation is grim with no solution in sight.

Many college grads and current college students are hoping congress cancels part of their college debt, but that outcome seems unlikely.

So many college grads are left struggling to find work in their field and consequently, they are struggling to pay back their student loans.

Create A College Budget and Get What You Actually Need For College

Considering the current student debt crisis, minimizing the cost of attaining your college degree is more important than ever.

Thus, now is definitely not the time to be buying things you don’t need for college.

Instead, create a personalized college budget, and use this college budget to help you pay for what you need for college not what you want.

Therefore, don’t get heavily influenced by the back-to-school campaigns. These back-to-school campaigns are designed to help companies make a lot of money but push college students further into debt.

So if your college degree is being financed by a college student loan, only pay for what you need.

Differentiate Your College Wants From Your College Needs

College wants and college needs are very different. Sadly sometimes college students confuse the two or deliberately classify a college item as a need when deep down they know this item is really a want.

Remember, college needs are distinguished from college wants. In other words, a college need is something required for the successful completion of a college degree while a college want is a desire, wish, or aspiration.

Another way to look at it is, not having a college want generally does not prevent you from completing your college degree whereas not having a college need can make it nearly impossible to complete your college degree.

Therefore, the ability to differentiate your college wants from your college needs can significantly help a college degree become more affordable to you.

What College Students Need For College

  1. Your tuition and fees paid
  2. Room and board paid
  3. An affordable and reliable laptop, cellphone, and cellphone plan
  4. Textbooks and stationery
  5. Bedding, a pillow, mattress cover, and bedroom slippers
  6. Bathroom slippers, bath towel, and a few toiletries
  7. Cleaning supplies
  8. Basic clothing and comfortable walking shoes
  9. Suitable attire for college fairs and interviews
  10. Access to an open online course provider

What You Need For College 1: Your tuition and fees paid

The first expense that must be paid is your tuition and fees. Sadly, if the school doesn’t receive this payment your college degree will be just a dream.

Thus, making this payment at the beginning of every semester should be your number one priority.

What You Need For College 2: Room and board

Room and Board in its simplest form, is a roof over a student’s head and food in their belly or basic housing and food expenses college students need in order to complete their college degree.

Now, these two expenses are actually part of the first set of needs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

However, for the purpose of this post, we are assuming before most students decide to attend college these needs were already covered.

Furthermore, if the student decided to attend a college nearby and commute their basic housing and food expense would be covered.

In fact, housing and food expenses would have been covered whether the student attends college or not.

However, things get complicated once the student decides to attain college out of state or stay on campus even if they can commute.

Now, if you happen to be one of these college students who want to stay on campus, paying for basic housing and food expenses becomes just as important as paying for your tuition and fees.

The simple explanation for this is, without housing expenses paid completely your college degree may not be possible.

What You Need To Bring To College 3: An affordable and reliable laptop, cellphone, and cellphone plan

Now some really frugal people will state you don’t really need a reliable laptop, cellphone, or cellphone plan to complete college successfully, and they wouldn’t really be wrong.

Instead of buying a laptop you can use the school computers and in some colleges laptop and even be borrowed from the college library.

In regard to a cellphone and a cellphone plan, a cellphone can be distracting and expensive to maintain.

Therefore, a college student would probably be better off without one.

However, in today’s, advanced technology era where the heavy use of technology is incorporated into our daily routine activities.

Therefore, having a reliable laptop, cellphone, and cellphone plan can easily be categorized as a need even without considering how useful these two items can be in a learning environment.

Furthermore, owning a reliable laptop is a game-changer for college students especially since online learning is becoming wildly used at college globally.

Now in regard to owning a reliable cellphone and cellphone plan, it can help students adjust to college life easier.

Plus, being able to instantly talk to family and friends is priceless, especially when a college student is homesick.

What You Need For College 4: Textbooks and stationery

College textbooks are expensive. In fact, one college textbook can easily cost over $300 depending on the college major. However, these textbooks provide relevant content needed to successfully earn a passing grade for college classes.

Therefore, college textbooks are a need. Thankfully, college students can purchase international versions. Plus, previous editions if the professor allows it to minimize the cost of college textbooks.

In regard to stationery, yes they are needed but avoid buying excessive stationery because free stationery like pens and pencils can be collected at college fairs.

What You Need For College 5: Bedding, a pillow, mattress cover, and bedroom slippers

Adequate sleep is important in college, therefore you need to ensure your sleeping area is as comfortable as possible considering your budget.

So that translates to, purchasing at least two sets of bedding just in case something happens to the first bed set, and you need to change the bed set immediately.

Then add a pillow, mattress cover, and a pair of bedroom slippers for basic comfort.

Now to save money during your college years, ensure these basic items be affordable and durable, so you don’t have to replace them often.

What You Need To Bring To College 6: Bathroom slippers, bath towel, and a few toiletries

Hygiene is important. Therefore, ensure you purchase a pair of bathroom slippers, at least two bath towels, and a few toiletries to keep yourself fresh and clean.

You certainly don’t want to gain a reputation for being untidy during your college years – you probably won’t gain friends that way.

Read: How To Make Good College Friends

What You Need To Bring To College 7: Cleaning supplies

Cleanliness improves focus, comfort, and health. Therefore, the cleaner your living environment is the better your overall college life experience will be.

Therefore, a few cleaning supplies is a must-have for college. For example, laundry supplies and bathroom cleaning supplies.

What You Need To Bring To College 8: Basic clothing and comfortable walking shoes

College isn’t really a place to be flashy. You can but, it is really pointless in the grand scheme of things.

Thus pack some basic clothing and a few pairs of comfortable walking shoes, and you’ll fit right in.

What You Need To Bring To College 9: Suitable attire for college fairs and interviews

In addition to basic clothing and comfortable walking shoes remember to add suitable attire for college fairs and interviews.

So that means a suit and a pair of 3inch pumps or oxfords for guys for college fairs and interviews.

What You Need For College 10: Access to an open online course provider

Nowadays in addition to your college degree, you also need additional certificates relevant to your field. Thus, access to open online course providers is critical.

Some colleges provide college students access to at least one provider. Therefore, before using a provider, find out if you have already paid for access through your college.

A few open course providers include:

  • Coursera
  • Linkedin Learning
  • Udemy
  • edx courses

What About Organizing College Living Space?

Starting college is fun and exciting! So, if you just want to live on the wild side and dabble in a few “college wants” here and there to help improve your college experience go for it!

However, be smart about your purchases and avoid purchasing these items using credit. Instead:

  • DIY college wants when it makes financial sense
  • Buy college wants at a discount at the thrift store
  • Shop at the dollar store for these items
  • Buy used college wants from graduating college seniors
  • Split dorm room decorating expenses with your college roommate

Trust me, in regard to buying used items from graduating seniors go for it! Some will be so happy you are taking these items off their hands they might actually give you these items for free.

I know I sure did. In fact, my friends and I give away all our college apartment furniture and organization essentials to other college students after we graduated.

Yes, we had places to go and things to do, and shipping these items was too expensive.

So have fun decorating your college dorm room or college apartment, but remember once it’s time to leave your college town these things just get in your way.

However, if you’re planning on staying in the same college town or close by for graduate school or a job then you can always keep your stuff but other than that you just want to pack up a suitcase and leave.

That is why it’s so important not to go into debt buying things you don’t need for college.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t work a few summer breaks to create your own sinking fund for decorating your dorm room!


First, create a college sinking fund, and second, ask your family members to donate to your sinking fund can help you save a lot of money.

Frankly, I think it is really the best way to do it – avoid using college debt as much as possible.

Anyway, congrats on your new journey and enjoy every bit of it!

After your first year, the rest of your college life goes by so fast and there’s nothing quite like it! In fact, it can easily be the best time of your adult life!

Next read: What You Shouldn’t Bring To College

Subscribe to A Dose Of College!

Get the best college tips delivered straight to your inbox.