Robin Short dropped off her son Cameron at the dorms at San Diego State University Friday. She said besides the tuition and cost of the dorm, she also had to buy him clothes and furnish his room.
"We want him to have everything he needs," said Short. But the cost to do that was nearly $500.
Michelle Espinoza is starting her freshman year with items from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
"I bought a lot of new stuff," said Espinoza.
And while every parent wants to make sure their children are set for college and living away from home, do they have to buy everything new?
"Tuition is expensive, books are expensive and this doesn't have to be," said Darlene Cossio with Goodwill. The popular thrift store is busy with college students this time of year.
"We have a lot of dishes and housewares, bedding, furniture, chairs -- lots of great stuff for your dorm or your apartment," said Cossio.
She told NBC 7 most of those items are often selling for a third of the new price.
Penny-pinching students should shop at thrift stores first, then fill in what they need at department stores. At the Goodwill store on Home Avenue, students can find beds, tables, lamps, towels, hangers, pots and pans, appliances and more.
And best of all, once the school year is over, you don't have to pack the car and take them home.
"You can use it and then turn it back to Goodwill and someone else can enjoy it," said Cossio.