20 Extremely Useful Gifts for College Students (Under $50)

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Actually Useful Gifts for Students That Won’t Just End Up in the Trash

college student Christmas gift wrapped with a red bow

Want to give your college kid something useful, but don’t have a ton to spend?

Thankfully, college students aren’t difficult to please. In addition to care packages with food from home, there are many inexpensive student gifts that are always met with gratitude and appreciation.

In this post, we curated the top 20 most useful gifts for college students under $50. Help them thrive and succeed at school with these cheap, yet highly beneficial, items that will make them wonder, “how did you know I needed this??


20 Useful Gifts for College Students

  1. Clip-On Nightstand Shelf for Dorm Beds

    In a dorm room, space is in short supply. It often isn’t feasible for college students to have a nightstand next to their bed. Which is why a convenient bedside shelf is so useful.

    Sturdy and secure without causing any damage to the frame, this Modern Innovations Clip-On Nightstand is a great gift idea. They'll finally have somewhere to set their stuff, and you to thank for giving something so thoughtful! One 5-star reviewer raves –

    “Overall, by far one of the most essential products that I wish I would’ve gotten before I moved to college. Looking back, I have no clue how I kept my sanity without having this bedside table. Easily one of my most essential college tools thus far!”
    • Instant bedside storage, no tools required
    • 3" cup holder to prevent spills
    • Available in a variety of colors
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 07:36 am GMT
  2. Bombas Socks
    from $13.00

    As a college student, one of the first things you realize you’ve taken for granted all your life is SOCKS.

    In addition to being extremely practical, Bombas socks are a gift idea that gives back. For every pair of socks you buy from them, Bombas donates a pair to those who need them most. Gen z is particularly attuned to brands who support causes they believe in. Not only will you feel good about gifting these socks to your college student, but they’ll also appreciate how you’re helping others.

    Bombas are my favorite socks and I love giving them as gifts! The quality is superb, they come in a wide variety of different colors and styles, plus the comfort is (imo) unparalleled. I’ve converted so many friends and family to this brand of socks, it’s kind of ridiculous at this point haha.

    Bombas socks are something college kids may not be able to afford, but would totally love to have. They’re such a small thing, but useful presents like this make a world of difference in a college student’s everyday life!

    Order Women's Socks Order Men's Socks
  3. We're Not Really Strangers Card Game

    We're Not Really Strangers is a card game with a clear purpose: to foster meaningful connections.

    Filled with intriguing and thought-provoking questions, this game is honestly such a good conversation piece! It’s a perfect gift to help college students get to know new people at school and even learn new things about friends they've known for years.

    • 150 question cards
    • 2-6 players
    • Multiple editions to keep expanding the game
    Order from Amazon Order from Target
    02/20/2024 03:37 pm GMT
  4. One Beat Outlet Extender
    $21.99 $16.99

    Kids in college have lots of gadgets that need charging. Yet dorm rooms (and even off-campus apartments) never seem to have enough outlets to plug everything in...Thankfully, an outlet extender is an easy solution. It's a great gift to help them maximize the limited socket real estate they're sharing with roommates.

    This One Beat Outlet Extender is a really nice option because because it has more than one USB port, a built-in night light, and a shelf that holds up to 10lbs. Plus, the surge protection will save those expensive devices from getting fried!

    • 5 AC outlets, 3 USB ports + 1 USB-C port
    • Smart night light
    • Removable shelf saves space
    • 1800J surge protection
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 03:42 pm GMT
  5. Hydro Flask Reusable Water Bottle
    $32.95 $31.04

    A reusable water bottle that'll last through all four years of college and beyond is one of the most useful student gifts you can give. Transcending the latest trends, Hydro Flask water bottles are a popular favorite on college campuses for their superior quality.

    These bottles are powder-coated, come with a lifetime warranty, and keep cold beverages cold for up to 24 hours (plus hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours). A 20 oz Hydro Flask is the kind of practical gift they'll take with them and love having every day!

    • Pro-grade stainless steel for durability, pure taste and no flavor transfer
    • Durable powder coating, sweat-free and colorful
    • Double-wall vacuum insulation
    • Leakproof flex cap
    Order from Amazon Customize on Hydro Flask
    02/21/2024 12:22 am GMT
  6. Bodum Brazil French Press Coffee Maker

    It's no secret that college students go through a lot of coffee and, well, caffeine in general. Keurigs are popular, but they aren't the end-all, be-all for coffee makers. In fact, the creator doesn't even use his own invention and has admitted he regrets creating it.

    Making a perfect cup of joe is just as easy with a French press - no filters needed! Plus another good reason is the cost per cup is miles cheaper than paying for k-cups. Make it all the more special by pairing this great gift idea with a bag of coffee beans (as a PNW local, may I suggest Dutch Bros private reserve) and get ready to be met with a big smile. 

    • No paper filters, no pods, no waste
    • Brews coffee and tea in just 4 minutes
    • Easy to use and easy to clean
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 05:38 pm GMT
  7. Taegila Compact Power Bank
    $26.99 $19.99

    There are plenty of situations when a college student needs a charger, yet there’s no cord or outlet available in sight. Isn’t it so frustrating when your phone runs out of battery? It always seems to happen at the most inconvenient moment too.

    Long-lasting portable chargers are more than just must-have items for college students, they’re an essential everyday companion. The Taegila Compact Power Bank, a reliable power source they can take on the go, is one of the best tech gifts you have give them. Between long days on campus, road trips, concerts, hikes, and work — this functional gift idea is a total lifesaver. 

    • Compatible with iPhones, AirPods, and Androids
    • Small and lightweight
    • Lightning fast charging
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 03:37 am GMT
  8. Hynik Air Purifier

    An air purifier is a perfect gift for college kids of all kinds because who doesn't love clean air and breathing easier?? This is an especially good idea for students who suffer from allergies. 

    Not to mention, an air purifier can help prevent sickness by reducing transmission of viruses like influenza. Offering high quality at a great price, the Hynik Air Purifier is a great way to support their health during all 4 college years.

    • Compact size is ideal for a dorm room or an off-campus apartment
    • Medical-grade (H13) true HEPA filter
    • Inexpensive replacement filters
    • Very quiet, only 24 decibels
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 03:42 am GMT
  9. Lapgear Convenient Lap Desk
    $34.99 $32.96

    Lots of college students prefer to do homework on their bed, especially when it comes to late night study sessions. And while they can use a laptop almost anywhere, it's not always comfortable. That's where a lap desk comes in.

    It's an ergonomic solution that will help keep your college kid's back healthy and feeling good. We all only get one spine and it's best to protect it while you're still young. This is a great gift to help them live their best life while studying for a degree!

    • Fits up to 15.6" laptops
    • Built-in mouse pad and phone slot
    • Dual bolster cushion leaves room for airflow
    • Compact and portable
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 05:56 pm GMT
  10. 175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College
    $15.99 $13.91

    From finding the perfect friend group to succeeding academically to exploring your newfound freedom, a lot goes into making your college experience a success. And some avenues of opportunity aren't obvious until reflecting upon them years later.

    Instead of getting trapped in the myth that they can (or even need to) "do it all," 175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College helps students figure out what's most important to them and how to make it happen. This book is full of ideas that will inspire first year freshman through senior year students to take advantage of their time at college. The absolute best gifts are typically a gift of wisdom so this is one you can't go wrong with.

    Order from Amazon Order from Target
    02/21/2024 06:51 am GMT
  11. Microwave Egg Cooker for Easy Breakfast Sandwiches

    The majority of college students living in the dorms only have one appliance they can access at all times: the humble microwave. Thankfully with the right tools, it can be quite versatile for cooking. Let me introduce you to the Egg on a Bagel Maker, a handy ceramic dish that's a game-changer for early morning classes.

    Not gonna lie, using this thing to make omelets is a breeze. And the best part? The scrambled eggs are perfectly shaped for a delicious and healthy breakfast sandwich— a favorite grab-and-go food for college students.

    Convenience is a huge factor for the foods young adults choose to eat. So you can be sure this practical and useful gift will fast become their favorite thing! With no mess and no fuss, skipping breakfast and defaulting to fast food will become a thing of the past. 

    Order from Uncommon Goods

    *Price accurate at time of publishing

  12. Microwave Popping Corn Popper
    $17.99 $13.99

    While we're on the topic of microwave gadgets, here's another one that really comes in handy for college kids — a personal popcorn popper!

    While instant bags are a great invention, popping corn kernels are so much cheaper. To illustrate, let's make a quick comparison of the cost:

    It might not seem like much, but when you're in college and living on a shoestring budget, every little bit helps. Plus, the younger generations are particularly conscious when it comes to eco-friendly choices.

    Enjoying a satisfying snack while cutting down on waste (i.e., instant popcorn bags) is a double win. All in all, silicone microwave popcorn poppers make wonderfully practical college gift ideas. 

    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 04:52 pm GMT
  13. Cable Saving Silicone Spirals

    There's nothing more frustrating than having a charging cable break when you don't have a back up. 

    These little silicone spirals prolong the life of charging cables by preventing them from bending at the wrong angle. Inexpensive but incredibly useful, these little things are such good gifts for poor college students who can't afford to be buying new charging cables every other week!

    • Highly flexible silicone
    • Protects charging cables fraying
    • Great for phone and laptop cords
    Order from Amazon
    02/21/2024 04:23 am GMT
  14. Bubm Electronic Accessories Organizer

    According to a 2013 study, college students own an average of 7 tech devices. And I'm sure that number has gone up by now!

    An electronic accessories pouch for organizing it all is a BIG help. I've had this Bubm organizer since 2020 and it's still going strong, it's one of the best things I've ever bought for myself! As one reviewer put it, "No more cable chaos - everything has a place."

    Not having to untangle a jumbled mess of cords in your backpack is an underrated luxury. It makes finding the right cable or rechargeable battery convenient and hassle-free for your favorite student. 

    • Double-layered compartments
    • Roomy enough to neatly store all the tech essentials
    • Durable, waterproof nylon
    • Soft case is ideal for stuffing into a backpack
    • Medium size fits up to 7.9" iPad mini, Large size fits up to 9.7" iPad Air
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 05:22 pm GMT
  15. Bissell Featherweight Vacuum

    It's true that a dorm building usually has a community vacuum for students to share. But these vacuums usually SUCK, are out of commision, and/or are generally gross.

    A small personal vacuum is really nice to have when a small mess or spill happens in their dorm room. And let's not forget, everyone’s car could definitely benefit from a good vacuuming every now and then.

    This Bissell 2033 Featherweight Vacuum is a perfect gift for college students thanks to its size and multipurpose versatility. Even when they graduate from dorm life to their first apartment, they’ll still find this thing pretty darn useful. 

    • 3-in-1 cleaning tool: converts from stick vacuum to handheld vacuum and stair vacuum
    • Compact size takes up minimal space
    • Lightweight design is convenient and user-friendly
    Order from Amazon Order from Target
    02/20/2024 04:46 am GMT
  16. WONHOX Sturdy Laptop Backpack
    $42.99 $36.99

    Is your college kid's backpack looking a little worse for wear? A sturdy laptop backpack with tons of useful pockets will be a more than welcome sight for their weary shoulders!

    It seems too easy, but school supplies like this are perfect gifts. So you're if looking for good graduation gifts to give a college-bound high school student, this reliable backpack is something actual college students need and want.

    Willing to spend a little more? This adidas VFA backpack is another great option I recommend.

    • Fits up to a 14" laptop
    • Durable, waterproof polyester
    • Padded shoulder straps
    • Spacious and well organized
    • Anti-theft pocket for storing valuables
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 06:07 pm GMT
  17. Essential Fix-it Kit

    Often overlooked when packing for freshman year, a small kit of essential tools is a must-have for college students. This Essential Fix-It Kit is the right gift that covers all the bases.

    I think this review says it all –

    "[I] was looking for the perfect graduation gift - one that was small, useful and made a point. I know college gives students a lot of knowledge and tools for life, but one thing it (usually does not) - are the everyday tools, like a flashlight, a screwdriver and such and this item filled the bill - you should have seen their faces when they opened it up... Big grins and understanding that they would need these when family was no longer be on call to come right away to hang a picture or assemble furniture..."
    • Perfect starter tool kit with all the basics
    • Tools are heat-treated and chrome-plated to resist corrosion
    • Available in black or pink
    Order from Uncommon Goods

    Price accurate at time of publishing

  18. SABRE Keychain Pepper Spray

    I think we can all agree that it's best to be prepared for the worst, even if you never need it. College girls are sure to appreciate a thoughtful gift of pepper spray.

    This Sabre Pepper Spray is a perfect choice as the quick release key ring makes it quick and easy to access. It's a small but powerful way to give a college girl some peace of mind while she navigates life as a young adult.

    • #1 pepper spray brand trusted by professionals
    • 10-12 foot spray range
    • Quick Release Key Ring for immediate access
    • 25 bursts for protection against multiple threats
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 04:22 am GMT
  19. The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook
    $16.99 $10.77

    College life and living on your own can be a big, transition-especially when you get sick for the first time!

    A good book like The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook or The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed can help them navigate taking care of themselves with confidence.

    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 06:32 pm GMT
  20. Hotsch Portable Blender

    Smoothie lovers will really like this next idea:

    It's a blender and travel bottle all in one - talk about convenient! It doesn't take up much room and it's easy to operate, making it a great addition for busy students living in the dorms or an apartment.

    • Rechargeable battery
    • Sized right for on-the-go
    • BPA free
    • Easy, self-cleaning mode
    Order from Amazon
    02/20/2024 06:22 pm GMT


Final thoughts on useful college gifts

There you have it, those are the top 20 useful gifts for college students that don’t cost an arm and a leg. As you can see, even inexpensive student gifts can still greatly benefit their college experience. I hope these ideas helped you find perfect thing to surprise the college guy or girl in your life.

I’m curious, which inexpensive items have personally made a huge difference in your day-to-day life? Tell me about your favorite cheap buys by leaving a comment down below!

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  1. Choosing the perfect gift for a student can be a challenge, as their interests and needs are constantly evolving. The outlet extender is priceless!