20 Affordable Gift Ideas for College Students

Finding the perfect gift for a college student can be difficult. When I was in college, the gifts I received from my relatives were either too immature-remember the Trapper Keeper?-or too mature. I was the only 18-year-old with a briefcase. What I really wanted was something age appropriate. Whether you are looking for a gift for your child, friend, or relative, here are 20 age appropriate gift ideas for college students.

Practical Gifts

1. Tired of seeing your college student in t-shirts and jeans? Give a gift card to a clothing store that specializes in business attire. Now, when that coveted internship comes up, your college student will be prepared.

2. With gas prices constantly rising, a cash-strapped college student would appreciate a prepaid gas gift card. For more information about prepaid gas gift cards, visit Fuel Budget.com .

3. Gift cards are ideal gifts for college students because they give students the flexibility to buy what they want, when they want it. Buy gift cards to their school bookstore, coffee shops, restaurants, electronic stores, online retailers, and online music stores.

4. Make a laundry themed gift basket by putting the following items into a laundry basket: detergent, liquid fabric softener, dryer sheets, a laundry bag, and a stain remover.

5. Give a college student access to your professional network. Finding a job after college is difficult in a time of high unemployment. The gift of having a personal job reference is indispensable.

Travel Gifts

6. A language learning system will teach him/her a new language and instill the desire to visit faraway places.

7. Globes, atlases, and maps encourage travel and global awareness. They also make great decorative elements.

8. Another travel-related gift idea for college students is luggage.

9. A journal and pen set may not sound travel-related, but they can be used to jot down all the adventures your college student encounters during his/her travels.

10. College students can store their souvenirs, pictures of friends, family, and vacations in a picture frame, memento box, scrapbook, or photo album.

Music Gifts

11. A pair of high quality headphones can be used to block out a noisy college dorm mate. Your college student can also use the headphones on the plane flight home.

12. Most college students have an iPod. The addition of speakers will turn their iPod into a stereo system.

Book Gifts

13. Specialty books about architecture, medicine, and anatomy make great gifts for inquisitive college students.

Movie Gifts

14. Now, you can order and pay for movie theater tickets online. You can also buy tickets to cultural events near your college student’s college or university.

Dorm Room Gifts

15. Nice bedding is a luxury. Give the gift of high thread count cotton sheets.

16. A cork board is the perfect decorative, organizational gift for college students. They can put their ideas on the board to remind them of their goals.

17. Most large stores stock dorm room accessories and decorations starting in July. You can stock up on these items when they go on sale, and keep them until you need a gift.

Artistic Gifts

18. Help your college student become an art collector by giving him/her a piece of art. You do not have to spend a lot of money. You can patronize a local artist, or find art online at sites like Etsy.com .

Techie Gifts

19. If your college student is into technology, but your budget cannot afford to buy the latest gadget, give a technology magazine subscription.

20. Pool your resources with others to treat your techie college student to a mind-blowing new gadget.

Most of these gift ideas are $20 or less. For example, gift cards are available in any denomination. Research the other items to find the best price. If you have money left over, you can mix and match these gifts to fit your budget. Your college student will appreciate these age-appropriate gifts.