There’s a whole lot changing about education this year, but one thing remains the same: Parents spend a lot of money on our children at this time of year, so we need all the help from back-to-school discounts and freebies we can get. Some of us might be buying two sets of school supplies — one for home school and one for school school — and some of us have the pleasure of setting up our college-age kids’ classrooms in their bedrooms as schools opt for remote-learning for one more semester. Regardless of where they’ll be learning this fall, some of these discounts will make life just a tiny bit easier for you and your kids.
Luckily, there are a host of back-to-school discounts and deals available for parents and students alike. If you’re on the hunt for savings, here are all the back-to-school freebies families must know about.
Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
Some of us are old enough to remember the days when Amazon was a cool new place on the World Wide Web where you could buy your textbooks for less money than the campus bookstore. It actually still is that place — only now Amazon offers some free online textbooks as well as others you can rent. for your Kindle or Computer. What’s more, with a valid .edu email address, your kids can get a Student Prime Membership for free for the first six months, followed by a 50 percent off discount for an annual membership.
One of the best free tools to help your kids with their studies is Microsoft Office. Students can get a Microsoft 365 membership, which includes Excel, Word, Powerpoint and more for free, with a valid student email address. Students and parents can also get 10 percent off of Microsoft devices, such as Surface Pros.
This year, Apple is offering college students, teachers, and homeschool teachers of all grade levels discounts of up to $200 off Macs, plus a free pair of Airpods and 20 percent off AppleCare+.
Arts students, rejoice: Adobe offers full-time students deep discounts on a variety of their products, including 60 percent off a Creative Cloud membership, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator and more. You’ll get one free month if you pay for a whole year up front by August 28.
Other tech discounts
Looking for more student deals on technology supplies? Lenovo is having a huge sale on laptops and PCs right now, and college students and teachers can get an extra 8 percent off. Samsung gives students and educators an extra 10 percent off, if they can verify their I.D. Dell offers a number of online deals for computers, audio equipment and keyboards.
The retail chain is always running promotions, so just visit its Ready for School landing page to see the latest school supply discounts.
It’s never been easier for your child to stay in the know: Major newspaper chains offer discounts on their subscription services for students with a valid school email address. Deals include a student discounted rate for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Parents of younger children can get downloadable, printable workbooks and coloring sheets online from Scholastic. You can find everything from reading and writing resources to parent resources. The publishing company also offers supplemental math lessons for students grades Pre-K to middle school. Resources include games, lesson plans and activities.
Clothing, Shoes, & Backpacks
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the current back-to-school sales happening at our favorite stores. There’s the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, where you can get a designer back-to-school outfit for a steep discount. Old Navy will not be outdone as back-to-school discount headquarters, with kids clothing going for less than $10 an item right now. The Zappos VIP sale includes backpacks and a number of great kids shoe styles. But DSW will be giving them a run for their money.
Kids of all ages can get discounts on clothing at retailers like Banana Republic, J.Crew, Levi’s and TopShop. Discounts range from 10-20 percent. Have your child bring their student ID to get the discount.
School is stressful no matter where you’re living. The meditation app Headspace recognizes this and offers students annual subscriptions for just $9.99, a steep discount from the usual $69.99
College students can sign up for free services like UniDays, which offers student discounts on just about anything and everything that they need to function, from food delivery to clothing to magazine and digital subscriptions.
If you’re willing to do the extra work of clipping coupons, you can find a number of great back-to-school coupons at major retailers like Staples, Office Depot, WalMart and Walgreens. Weekend newspapers also typically have extra coupons for school supplies. Lastly, you can find plenty of coupons online for specific products. While it takes a little bit more work, the discounts may be worth it for individual items.
Some states denote specific weekends in August and September for tax-free back-to-school shopping. Parents can get clothing, computers, books and school supplies tax-free in their state. Though tax only makes up a small percentage of your overall purchase, those savings can add up over time.
What to do if you’re in a bind
If your back-to-school shopping list becomes more costly than what you had budgeted, it’s best to look for freebies instead of going into debt.
If you’re in a pinch and need more supplies, contact your child’s school. Chances are they purchased extra school supplies for children and parents. Sometimes teachers will set aside part of their classroom budget to buying extra school supplies for their students. Or you may have better luck contacting your school’s district — they often have a program set up that gives donated school supplies away. Backpack drives through charitable organizations like the Kids in Need Foundation usually distribute their supplies through teachers and schools.
For those who want to help others this year, programs like Operation Backpack, which gets school supplies to kids in homeless and domestic violence shelters in New York, has requested monetary donations rather than actual supplies.
While this annual shopping spree can be stressful on you and your wallet, the best way to handle your ever-growing to-do list is to make a plan. Setting a budget, doing your research, and hunting for the best deals will keep your shopping as smooth as possible.
Make back-to-school shopping more fun with these supplies.