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Experts: Shop smart for college

Friday - 8/5/2011, 6:27am  ET

Neal Augenstein,

UNDATED - For those who remember sharing a dormitory hall phone, the idea of students being able to purchase and bring their own portable paper shredders was unthinkable.

Now it's just unnecessary.

With retailers offering back back to school sales, students and their parents are offered "must have" items including dorm furniture, furnishings, electronics and clothes.

Despite the bargains available, the experts suggest remembering everything you buy still has to fit in a 100-square-foot dormitory room.

Families often pack up the family vehicle to help a freshman move into the dorm. There's not as much interest in repacking the vehicle at the end of the school year.

So a lot of a student's belongings end up in the dumpster.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, students and parents plan to spend $808.71 on clothes, electronics, dorm furnishings and food items this year, down from $835.73 last year.

Experts tell USA TODAY sensible shoppers determine what the dorm does or doesn't have before buying and bringing unneeded items.

Call or e-mail to find out if items such as irons or refrigerators are available on loan or rent.

One of the telltale signs of freshmen is they dress too well, upperclassmen tell USA TODAY. As a student gets more acclimated to college life, he tends to wear more comfortable clothes that don't need to be dry cleaned.

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