Back to college spending is tops

FRESNO, California

An exclusive Action New poll conducted by Survey USA shows more than a quarter of Valley parents plan to spend more than $300 on school clothes.

Overall, the amount parents plan to spend varies. But most seem to agree -- whatever amount they spend won't be less than last year.

Nearly 80 % said they'll spend the same amount or more on clothes this year. And when it comes time for college, the back to school budget gets pushed to the limit.

Jacob Brinkley is on the hunt for his most important accessory over the next four years. "Right now, I'm just looking for what would be the best computer to help me study."

Brinkley's about a month away from his freshman year at Santa Clara University and he's part of the new focus for retailers.

College students and their parents are expected to spend about $835 per student on supplies this year, with electronics taking up the biggest chunk.

Those numbers are both down a little from last year. But the National Retail Federation says spending on back-to-college merchandise is twice as much as it is for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade.

College students and their parents are expected to spend $45.8 billion this year, compared to $21.4 billion for younger students.

"Back to school has changed a little bit -- went from backpacks and pens and notepads and pencils to electronics now," said Fresno Best Buy manager Justin Cruz.

Personal computers are a necessity for most college students now, but games and gadgets can break the budget for some.

What 18-year-old wouldn't want a pen that records lectures and notes at the same time, then uploads them easily into your computer for easy viewing?

But at Fresno State, advisors give new students a crash course in the difference between what they want and what they really need.

"If you're an art or design major, a lot of times they're going to require an Apple and those types of design programs -- Photoshop, Illustrator, Dream Weaver, that type of thing," said Fresno State advisor Ken Ternate. "If you're an English major, maybe a PC will work, with Microsoft Office."

Every new student needs two inexpensive, but critical supplies for college:

A flash drive to store and transport information and a planner to use time efficiently. But for most college students, that's just the start of a long shopping list.

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