Back-to-School Tips


Saving on School Supplies

This year’s Sales Tax Holiday in Texas is Aug. 10-12, offering families the opportunity to save money when preparing their students for the coming school year.
The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced less than $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.
Dr. Dan Rajaratnam, clinical professor of marketing, suggests these additional ways to save on back-to-school purchases.

  • Research before shopping. Check circulars, download retailers’ apps and save coupons prior to your shopping trip. “Buying in stores is not always the best deal, so check out websites such as Amazon for items like school supplies and backpacks. You may find the same item for a lower cost.”
  • Follow the list. Bring your child’s school supplies list to the store and prepare them for sticking to it.
  • Check inventory. See what extra supplies you have left over from last year and what can be reused.
  • Stock up. If you find a good deal, purchase clothing, school supplies and shoes that you’ll need throughout the next few months. Some stores offer bigger discounts for spending more. “Kids outgrow their clothes and shoes very quickly, and this way you’ll save money on items you would be purchasing later in the year.”
  • Head to the stores early or late. Research shows midday is the most crowded time at retailers.
  • Know what deal is best. Because most stores will not feature any sales or additional discounts during tax-free weekend, it might be smarter to wait on certain purchases until the store has a big sale. “Tax-free weekend saves you 8.25 percent in Texas, but if you’re needing several pairs of jeans, and there’s a 30 percent-off sale the next week, that’s a much better idea.”


Advice for First-Generation College Students

First-generation students, or those whose parent or guardian did not graduate from a postsecondary school, have unique challenges when adjusting to college life.
About one-third of college students are first-generation students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Without the guidance of someone who has already navigated a college degree, these students may feel isolated and fear failure.
Mary Jane Partain, director of UTD’s First Generation Living Learning Community, offers the following tips to help new freshmen who are the first in their families to pursue a four-year college degree:

  • Attend welcome events to meet others on campus.
  • Visit faculty during their office hours to connect with them outside the classroom.
  • Ask your academic advisor to help you select classes and plan your academic path.
  • Live on campus to socialize with peers and take advantage of after-hours programming.

“First-generation students often don’t want to say they’re the first in their family to go to college because they’re afraid it’s admitting they don’t have the same resources as other students,” Partain said. “Faculty, staff and peer advisors can help guide you. If you’re not sure of something, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”