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Promote College Knowledge With These Top Back-to-School Deals

By Lou Carlozo, Green Dad columnist for dealnews

Get out your pencils, dealnews Scholars, and answer this astrophysics-level exam question: When was the last time college tuitions went down?

a) Last week
b) Black Friday
c) Whenever it was Harvard had that "buy one, get one free" sale on admissions
d) Probably never

If you answered "d" (as in "duh'), then you know college tuitions have far outpaced inflation for the past four decades. So if you're looking to save money while you matriculate, you'll have to apply your bargain brains elsewhere.

Thus, this roundup focuses on some of the best back-to-school money savers we've listed in the past few days that cater to the college crowd. And while we couldn't locate any devices that will do homework or guarantee straight As, we did land the next best thing: bona-fide bargains.

  1. Amazon Rewards Visa Card holders coupon: 20% off computers / school supplies
    Store: Amazon
    Discount: 20% off computers and office/school supplies
    Expires: August 31

    Is it worth it?: You can get up to $200 off — wow! — on this deal, although you'll need to have an Amazon Rewards Visa Card and enter coupon code "BTS20OFF".

    But we're loving this one so much we've named it an Editors' Choice. This is the best discount we've seen on these items for Amazon cardholders. And should you run into items that already have a pre-purchase discount so much the better. Don't have that Amazon Visa? Don't worry: You can apply by clicking here.

  2. Cynthia Muchnick's The Everything Guide to Study Skills Kindle eBook
    Store: Amazon Kindle Store
    Price: Free
    Lowest by: $10

    Is it worth it?: Come on, folks: What beats free for a book that normally retails for $16? As for the author's credentials, Muchnick worked as an Assistant Director of Admission for both the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology, taught SAT prep for the Princeton Review, and was a high school history teacher. At 304 pages, this book comes packed with essential strategies and tips for scholastic success. There is a catch, though: You'll have to tear yourself from those video games and "Futurama" reruns, and actually read the book before it does you any good.

  3. Stanford Engineering: Free Online Course in Artificial Intelligence
    Store: Stanford University School of Engineering
    Price: Free
    Classes take place: October 10 through December 16

    Is it worth it?: An inquiring young mind can never learn too much. Stanford is one of the world's most respected universities, so any time if offers a free course, you're wise to sign up. So far as we know, it's never offered a free online course before, and this one looks like a winner: The teachers are Sebastian Thrun (a Research Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and Google Fellow) and Peter Norvig (Director of Research at Google). And despite the course's title, there's nothing artificial about the intelligence you'll gain. Enter your name email address here to sign up for more information and receive a registration form later in the summer.

    Interested in other free classes? MIT offers 2,000 online classes for free while The Open University offers 600 online classes for free.

  4. Amazon sale: 100 school supplies under $5
    Store: Amazon
    Price: Under $5 with free shipping via Prime
    Lowest by: Varies

    Is it worth it?: Every student needs to replenish their school supplies each year, and with this deal, you might as well stock up. After all, you don't want to introduce an additional hurdle to studying by not having the proper utensils at hand. Pens, highlighters, erasers, and more are all marked up to 67% off.

    Another deal on supplies, albeit more than $5: This Educational Insights Smart Smencils 50-Count Bucket is just $18.99 with free shipping via Prime, or $0.38 per pencil. Stay fresh while you study with the peppermint-scented writing tools.

  5. HP TouchPad 9.7" 16GB Touchscreen WebOS Internet TabletStore: Barnes & Noble
    Price: $101.95 with $5.49 s&h
    Lowest by: Only in-stock deal available

    Is it worth it?: In a past feature we declared an iPad a poor purchase for a college student, and that applies broadly to other tablets. But several of our stated cons lose their sting when you consider how incredibly cheap the recently-discontinued HP TouchPad is now. Amazingly, we saw this item for less when HP slashed prices on its inventory over the weekend, but Barnes & Noble is the only place we can currently find this now hotly in-demand item in stock. Take this opportunity to silence your student's desire for an Internet tablet with a budget-friendly option.

    Update: Multiple reviews being left on the Barnes & Noble site claim that Barnes & Noble is canceling all orders for this item.

  6. Red Bull Energy Drink 8.4-oz. Can 24-PackStore: Amazon
    Price: $41.17 with free shipping via Subscribe & Save
    Lowest by: $11

    Is it worth it?: Let's do the math, students: $41 will buy you less than 10 venti mochas at Starbucks. Instead, we encourage you to go for a 24 pack of the drink that claims to "improve vigilance, emotional status and stimulate metabolism." We're not quite sure about that secret ingredient that "improves vigilance" — maybe that's a dash of clever marketing — but countless students swear by Red Bull when the heat's on to study harder and longer into the night and early morning. Meanwhile, note the legal disclaimer that "this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." That includes chronic laziness, senioritis, or the dreaded Term Paper Avoidance Syndrome. But if you're hoping to plow your way through 300 pages of Chaucer at 11 pm, Red Bull will surely caffeinate your trudge.

Lou Carlozo is dealnews' Green Dad columnist. He was most recently the managing editor of WalletPop.com and, before that, a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune. Follow him on Twitter— @LouCarlozo63. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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