The ultimate guide to back-to-school deals & freebies

Brooke Niemeyer


Brooke Niemeyer

Brooke Niemeyer

Associate Director of Media Relations, Brooke Niemeyer

Brooke Niemeyer is a veteran journalist who has worked in all types of media, from print to broadcast, covering beats ranging from news and culture to sports to entertainment. She is currently the associate director of media relations at Policygenius and is a travel expert, particularly in the cruise sector. She is a former NBC reporter and her work has been featured on ABC News, CBS, USA Today, Inc. Magazine and more. She has shared her travel industry expertise in major outlets, including Forbes and Huffington Post. Brooke has an M.A. in Journalism, with an emphasis in urban reporting, from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @RNYBrooke.

Published August 29, 2019|8 min read

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Heading back to school not only means the fun of summer has come to an end, but that it’s time to pick up all your new school supplies — and that doesn’t come cheap. In fact, the annual survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) found families plan to spend $696.70 on school supplies this year, more than ever before.

Luckily, there are plenty of deals, discounts and freebies to help you get everything you need without going over budget. Here are 50 ways to save, whether you’re a parent, student or educator.

1. Microsoft Office 360

Teachers and students can get Office 360 Education, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Microsoft Teams, for free with a valid school email address.

2. Microsoft educational apps ...

Keep your kids entertained and learning at the same time, thanks to free apps from Microsoft. They’ve got everything from ABC games for younger students to more advanced subjects like chemistry and math.

3. ... & Apple apps

The same goes for iOS users, through the Apple app store.

4. Beats headphones

Apple is offering a free pair of Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones when you buy an eligible MacBook or iPad.

5. AppleCare+

Education pricing at Apple gives students 20% off AppleCare+ services.

6. Amazon Prime

College students can get a free six-month trial membership of Prime, meaning you can enjoy perks like free two-day shipping. For more, check out this list of Amazon Prime freebies, discounts and deals. Speaking of free shipping...

7. Free shipping on school supplies ...

The NRF reported that 90% of K-12 shoppers planned to take advantage of free shipping opportunities, and there are a lot of them.

For example, Office Depot offers free next business day (or two-day) shipping for orders over $45.

8. ... & Crayola products ...

Spend $50 on markers, crayons or any other Crayola products and you’ll get free ground shipping.

9. ... & on back-to-school clothes ...

Do your shopping at Macy’s or Kohls and get free shipping on orders more than $75.

10. ... & pretty much everything else.

Target has everything you could need for back-to-school shopping, from clothes to pens and notebooks. It’s great if you’re looking to do one-stop shopping online. Spend $35 or more and you’ll land free shipping.

11. Container Store supplies

With all the new school supplies and clothes, you’ll want to keep some semblance of order in your child’s room. The Container Store has every shape and size of organizers — parents and students can get 20% off by signing up for their rewards program.

12. Budgeting tracker just for parents ...

No matter where you are in your parenting journey, there’s a lot to budget for. From back-to-school clothes to after school activities, having a place to keep track of your spending is a big help — here’s a free budgeting spreadsheet for parents to get you started.

13. ... or for college students

Managing your own budget for the first time? Here’s a free budgeting spreadsheet for current college students.

14. Budgeting software

Prefer to go digital? Students can use the popular You Need a Budget app for a year for free (an annual membership is usually $83.99). We have a roundup of the best budgeting apps here.

15. Cell phone plans

Some providers, like AT&T, offer plan discounts to students at certain colleges and universities. Check their websites for more details.

16. Sneaker sales

DSW regularly has deals that can help you save on shoes. Right now, you can get $20 when you spend $49 on athletic sneakers. Sneakerhead? Here’s how to save.

17. Photos

Need to get your first day of school pictures developed? Shutterfly has lots of special offers, whether you’re looking for individual prints, photo books and everything in between.

18. Music

Spotify offers unlimited music, whether you’re listening on your phone or computer. Want to go ad free? Students can get a subscription for half off, including up to three renewals (as long as you’re eligible). Here are some other affordable ways to get unlimited music.

19. Digital books

Use your student email to get one audio book and two Audible original stories each month at a discount.

20. Movie tickets

It’s expensive to go to the movies (here’s why) but many theaters offer discounts for both high school and college students with a valid school ID.

21. Broadway tickets

Prefer Broadway theaters to movie theaters? Shows often offer student rush opportunities — meaning you can score extremely discounted tickets on the day of the show.

22. Museum passes

Take a look at this list of museums with free entrances or check with your local museum to see if they offer free or discounted tickets for students.

23. Ski passes

Whether you’re from a mountain town or moved to one for school, you might be able to get a deal on your season pass. For example, many Utah resorts offer student pricing for skiers in sixth grade to college. Check with your local ski resort or see if you can use multi-resort passes, like the IKON pass.

24. Financial advice

Parents and students can score free and easy money tips sent right to their inbox just by signing up for the Easy Money newsletter.

25. Coloring pages

Crayola offers free art lesson plans, along with free coloring pages that teachers and parents can print out for their kids all year round.

26. Printables for teachers & parents

Scholastic also offers a broad selection of free printables — like games, bulletin board ideas and lesson planners — to help families and teachers stay organized in the new school year.

27. Classroom supplies ...

Michael’s offers teachers 15% off their entire purchase, both in store and online.

28. ... & craft supplies ...

Teachers in grades K-12, authorized home school teachers and certified child care providers can also save 15% at the craft store JOANN.

29. ... & even more supplies

Teachers can also get 15% off their entire purchase at A.C.Moore.

30. Handwriting worksheets

Parents and teachers can print out handwriting practice sheets for their kids, courtesy of VocabularySpellingCity.

31. Tolerance lesson plans

Teaching Tolerance, a Southern Poverty Law Center program, offers free tools for covering diversity, understanding and prejudice, for an inclusive learning environment.

32. Alphabet activities

The Coconut Tree and ABC’s free printable activities help young kids learn the alphabet. Activities are available in both English and Spanish.

33. Digital news subscriptions

If you’re talking about current events in class, take advantage of teacher and student deals from major publications like The New York Times or The Washington Post. Check out this list of newspaper subscription deals for more.

34. Books & other materials for teachers

Every weekend through September 15, Barnes & Noble is offering educators 25% off almost everything in store and online, as well as 10% off treats at the cafe.

35. Free books for kids

Thanks to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, children can get a new book mailed to their home each month at no cost to the family. The program began in Tennessee, but is expanding to more states and countries. Check the Imagination Library’s website to see if the program is available in your area.

36. Dental hygiene kits

Teachers can request free classroom education kits that include a dental hygiene kit with sample toothbrushes and toothpaste for 25 kindergarten or first-grade students, all courtesy of Colgate.

37. Nutrition resources

Team Nutrition, part of the USDA, offers free materials to help you and your family stay healthy while heading back to school. This includes everything from grocery shopping bingo games to healthier school lunch plans.

Want more ideas for how you can save at the grocery store? Check out these 50 ways to save on groceries.

38. Local after school programs

There are a lot of free or low-cost activities your kids can enjoy after the last bell rings each day. Check out your local YMCA or community center for details.

39. Hot Wheels classroom kit

Teachers can apply to get Speedometry — a math and science educational kit using Hot Wheels — for their classroom. Lesson plans are designed for kindergarten and fourth grade.

40. Car insurance deals

There are car insurance discounts for students, so make sure you aren’t paying more than you have to for this essential budget line item.

41. Travel deals

If you take the bus or train to get around, you may be eligible for student pricing. For example, carriers of the Student Advantage Discount Card can get 20% off Greyhound and 10% off Amtrak tickets. Check out these 50 free things you can get when traveling.

42. Password manager

Students can get LastPass Premium free for six months.

43. Language lessons

Duolingo for Schools is free for students and educators to learn foreign languages.

44. Your education

You read that right — you can go to school at no cost. Here is a list of colleges you can attend for free.

45. Coding lessons

Students and parents can learn to code for free via Find out why the non-profit’s founder decided to offer free lessons in this interview.

46. Other free classes

Check out Skillshare, which offers over 30,000 classes in all types of categories.

47. Adobe Creative Cloud

Taking a photography class this semester? Enjoy 60% off on Adobe Creative Cloud suite, which includes access to Photoshop and Premiere.

48. Flu shots

This isn’t a required vaccine for back to school, but the flu season is quickly approaching. Here’s a list of places you can get a free flu vaccine.

49. No sales tax

Some states host summer sales tax holidays on school supplies, clothes and computers before school starts, so try and get your shopping done then. Though it may be only a couple dollars off of your purchase, those savings can add up.

50. Other tax breaks

A recent Policygenius survey revealed only one in five parents had a 529 college savings plan. Not only is this a great way to save for your child’s education, but you can secure tax benefits too.

Want even more ways to save? Check out this list of free things you can get this fall.

Image: Aleksandar Nakic